VEREENIGING, January 19 – The Overvaal Transformation Committee, which is protesting the exclusion of non-Afrikaans speaking learners at Hoërskool Overvaal in Vereeniging on Thursday denounced the damaging of a police vehicle outside the school premises.
“We are against any form of violence. It’s unfortunate that when you have protesters, you don’t know who is here with good intentions, and who is without good intentions. It’s unfortunate but you can’t identify a person by just looking,” chairperson of the Overvaal Transformation Committee Mofokeng Tlhoriso spoke to African News Agency (ANA) at the school.
“We still emphasise that we condemn any form of violence.”
Tlhoriso said the protesting community members, who want their English-speaking children to be included at the school, will continue to pile pressure with more protests this week.
“It’s unfortunate that the management of the school is still not willing to talk to us, but we believe that we will put more pressure until other parents start instructing the school to talk to us,” he said.
Tlhoriso said the community members are set to have a meeting with Gauteng Education Member of the Executive Council (MEC) Panyaza Lesufi on Friday.
Earlier, a police van stationed at the Afrikaans Hoërskool Overvaal was set alight on Thursday afternoon as community members continued to protest against the school’s “exclusion” of non-Afrikaans speaking learners.
The situation was tense but calm outside school, at around 2pm with police officers chatting on one side, and scores of protesters on the other side.
Suddenly, the marked South African Police Service (SAPS) Nissan Hardbody double-cab was in flames. The fire was quickly extinguished before causing extensive damage to the car.
Police officers, pointing pistols and shotguns, then rushed to arrest groups of Congress of South African Students (COSAS) members who had been protesting at the school. There were skirmishes as most of the detailed people said they had no involvement in the arson attack.
On Wednesday, police fired rubber bullets at the protesters outside the school in Vereeniging, where 55 English speaking children had been turned away.
The first day of school turned bloody when a couple of protesters were hit by rubber bullets. Shortly after ambulances arrived outside school and ferried bleeding protesters.
Police officers pointing shotguns, chased the protesters for a distance. They repeatedly fired stun grenades and rubber bullets, while shouting at the protesters to move off.
A few protesters fell to the ground, bleeding. A bleeding aged woman complained that she had been shot in her back. Her arm was also bleeding. She was attended to by paramedics.
– African News Agency (ANA),