- A group of former Brackenfell High pupils asked the
school to investigate racism allegations.
- They recommend that a retired judge or senior
counsel head a fact-finding mission.
- The group feels this is the only way to show the
school is serious about rooting out racism.
A group of past Brackenfell High School pupils
wrote an open letter calling for a fact-finding mission, headed by a retired
judge or senior counsel, into allegations of racism at the school.
The “petition” on Change.org asks the school to “open the
wound” to get to the bottom of the racism complaints.
“We believe this is the only way to send a
clear message to your current and former pupils, the schooling community and
the country at large that Brackenfell High School is serious about rooting out
racism,” the petition states.
“Those who have suffered racism at the hands
of the school should be allowed to come forward and disclose their experiences
in a safe and formalised space. Only once the truth has been established, and
all the voices have been heard, the healing process can start.”
About 600 people had signed the petition, titled
“Open letter to the principal and SGB of Brackenfell High School from
alumni”, by Thursday morning.
It was initiated by former pupils Nashira Davids
(matriculant in 1998), Carryn-Ann Nel (2002), Siya Ntuntwana (2016), and *Adriaan
Basson (1999), who is also News24’s editor-in-chief.
Some people left comments to explain why they were
“I’m signing because I want to play my part in
making sure the school is held accountable and change is brought about,”
one person wrote.
“I’m signing because I want to see good come
out of all the chaos,” wrote another.
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The petition is directed at principal Jannie Muller
and school governing body (SGB) chairperson Guillaume Smit and was started by
“concerned and proud alumni of Brackenfell High School”.
Davids explained why they called for the
“Everybody should have a safe space to speak
about their experience,” said Davids.
Davids added her time at the school left her with
good memories, so she was disappointed when she heard the allegations about the
The open letter states that alumni are coming
forward with “heinous stories about alleged discrimination at the hands of
current and former teachers”.
Experiences were also being shared on an Instagram
account, and these need to be aired and not swept under the carpet, it stated.
They acknowledged the school’s letter to parents,
expressing regret for the pain caused to pupils of colour, and its commitment
to resuming sensitivity and diversity training next year.
“However, we believe you cannot fully heal unless
you open the wound,” the petition stated.
The Brackenfell controversy was sparked when a
party was arranged to make up for the traditional matric farewell, which
couldn’t take place because of Covid-19.
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It is alleged that the party was attended by white
pupils and that black pupils were left out.
There were reports of apologies from some people of
colour who were invited but could not attend. However, the issue has continued
to bubble unresolved.
A planned protest by an EFF delegation, upset about
the racism allegations, ended in a violent confrontation near the school on 9
As tension mounted, the Pan Africanist Congress of
Azania (PAC) also attempted a march to the school, but was turned back when
police fired stun grenades.
A group of EFF supporters arrived in Brackenfell on
Friday for a protest arranged for 100 people. However, the turnout by EFF
supporters was so large that negotiations ensued to allow 500 EFF supporters to
attend the picket.
Teargas, a water cannon and stun grenades were used
intermittently as police blockaded roads leading to the school.
The school stated that it was working on a
Smit said the SGB was expecting the petition to be
sent to them by the principal, and added that they would comment later.
*Adriaan Basson is editor-in-chief of News24. He
matriculated from Brackenfell High School in 1999.
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