CAPE TOWN – Tension has been running high at Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke in the North West after a photo emerged online showing black pupils sitting separately from their white classmates, BBC reports.
The viral picture that led South Africans to label Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke racist merely captured a moment and was not a true reflection of the school ethos, the school’s governing body said on Thursday.
South Africa in 2019. First day of school & a classroom in a post-apartheid country with 82% black population & 8% white. But please zoom in towards the door. @TuckerCarlson pic.twitter.com/rM0snFUBCS
— Bo Mbindwane (@mbindwane) January 9, 2019
Governing body chairperson Jozeph du Plessis released a statement after a chaotic day at the school, which saw a protest by members of the community, including some EFF members, and a visit by provincial government officials.
The North West education department has suspended a teacher while an investigation is conducted, reports News24
“Schweizer-Reneke Primary School is proud of its integrated character. The school’s ethos is built on inclusivity as a reflection of the broader South African society,” Du Plessis was quoted by News24.
Du Plessis added that the photograph was a “reflection of a single moment in a classroom”.
“The governing body does not condone any distinction based on race. Learners from different backgrounds, including race, religion, and language, are not merely accommodated but are fully integrated in all aspects of the school environment.”
He said that the school would help staff in “aspects where it appears that integration is not taking place as it should”.
“The governing body will provide support and training where areas lacking in integration are identified. The governing body is committed to integration and to make a positive contribution to society. We will make sure that the necessary resources are available and that staff members have access to information and training.”
Du Plessis said the school had a proud history of pupils from different backgrounds.
“The interests of learners remain our first priority and everything possible will be done to ensure a safe and happy environment where they can develop and grow.”
Earlier, parents had to fetch their little ones after protests became heated outside the school.
The picture sparked outrage on social media in many parts of Africa including Uganda.
Others, however, pointed out that the picture was seemingly part of a series of pictures taken on the same day in the same class.
In the other pictures, children of different races can be seen interacting with different pupils in different seats.
The school governing body did not address why the initial picture showed an apparent divide in the seating arrangement, nor whether the images were taken in the same sitting.
Recently protesters to one of Cape Town’s most picturesque beaches after private security guards were accused of ordering black visitors to leave.
According to BBC, the guards, hired by local residents, allegedly cleared the Clifton 4th beach of tourists.
BBC also reported that demonstrators claimed black beachgoers were unfairly targeted, but the firm denies closing the beach and says it only acts to protect residents from crime.