South African police used rubber bullets, stun grenades, tear gas, and water cannons to disperse a mob of mainly Black demonstrators who were protesting against a “whites-only” school prom.
The opposing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party had planned protests at Brackenfell High School in Cape Town following a prom that, allegedly, only white pupils were invited to.
The school said the party was a private function organised by parents and had nothing to do with them.
Some of the mainly black protesters were seen carrying machetes, sticks, and golf clubs, but were met by heavy police and private security presence, some of whom were in riot gear.
The EFF acquired a court order for the latest protest at the school – which is located in a predominantly white neighbourhood. Video shows demonstrators running away as the missiles are fired. The police officers said they used force after protesters ignored an instruction to stay at an agreed point and started approaching the school.
The “whites only” prom was reportedly organised after the original party for students taking school-leaving exams was cancelled because of coronavirus restrictions, and limited to 100.
The school has said it was a private function organised by parents and had nothing to do with them, but it is alleged that teachers attended.
A public backlash began after a man shared a video of what he described on social media as a “whites-only” party.
Contrary to what the police said, the EFF, South Africa’s second-largest opposition party, said its followers were protesting peacefully when police used tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon on them.
Graphic images from the scene showed officers firing what was identified as rubber bullets at the crowd as it dispersed.
Nearby fields were set alight and a local post office damaged, SAFM said, but there were no reports of any injuries.
There were reports of Black party members fighting white parents outside the school in a similar demonstration last week.
The EFF says that Black people are held by deep-rooted racism that remains in South Africa and especially in neighborhoods like Brackenfell.
Poppy Mailola, EFF deputy secretary general, said the community of Brackenfell “had even taught their children to be racist”.
Meanwhile, Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, the former archbishop of Cape Town, released a statement calling for “peaceful and rational discourse and action… not division”.
He accused both sides of undermining non-racialism and called the issue “a symbol of unresolved issues from South Africa’s past”.
Approximately 80% of South Africa’s 60 million people are black but many are relatively poor 26 years after the end of apartheid.
NEWS/PHOTO SOURCE: World News Agencies