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In South Africa School accused of racism over alleged hair rules

A campaign to stop racism at a leading South African school has gone global after students accused the school of discrimination.

  • Published:
play An online petition created Friday wants to 'Stop Racism at Pretoria Girls High'. On Wednesday morning it had 27,210 of the of 30,000 signatures it asked for. (File)

A campaign to stop racism at a leading South African school has gone global after students accused the school of discrimination.

The school has been accused of racism after allegedly telling black girls to straighten their hair and not wear afros.

An online petition created Friday wants to 'Stop Racism at Pretoria Girls High' and was created by Koketso Moeti. On Wednesday morning it had 27,210 of the of 30,000 signatures it asked for.

Students had said they were forced to chemically straighten their hair and not have afros that were deemed untidy.

 

Directed at the MEC of Education Panyaza Lesufi and Headmistress, Mrs K du Toit the petition was in response to accusations of racist practices at the school.

"Girls attending the school have been forced to straighten their hair; are accused of conspiring when standing in groups and face other intolerable comments and actions," the petition said.

"We stand in solidarity with the learners, who marched at the school on the 26th to say enough is enough. It is unacceptable that in a country in which Black people are a demographic majority, we still today continue to be expected to pander to whiteness and to have it enforced through school policy.

"Black children should be allowed to just be children, without being burdened with having to assert their humanity."

 

The petition said action was needed to ensure the school's code of conduct does not discriminate against Black and Muslim girls and those teachers and staff who implementing any racist policy and/or racist actions should be punished.

The prestigious school in Pretoria was historically attended by whites only but now admits black children following the end of apartheid in 1994.

The school’s code of conduct has a detailed list of rules about hair, but does not specifically mention the afro hairstyle.

Black students at the school have also alleged on social media that they were not allowed to speak ethnic languages to one other.

 

Meanwhile, Old Girls of the school have pledged their support for learners at Pretoria High School for Girls.

In a letter the alumni said they "stand in solidarity with the bold and courageous learners of the school, who have spoken out about rank racial discrimination at our old school. We are emboldened and inspired by their brave and principled stance in upholding the values the school was established on."

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has instituted an investigation at the school in a bit to get to the bottom of the issues that resulted in anti-racism protests at the school, news24.com reports.

"I'm officially appointing an independent investigation body to investigate all the allegations levelled against certain educators, events of the 26 and 27 [August] and all issues that learners felt border on racism and all related matters," Lesufi said.

The BBC reports Mr Lesufi sayung school rules would be suspended while the independent investigation takes place into the allegations.

The school has not commented.

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