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South Africa Unions march on school to demand 55 non-Afrikaans-speaking kids are admitted

SOUTH African trade unionists marched to a school south of Johannesburg today to demand it admit 55 non-Afrikaans-speaking pupils.

Teaching union Sadtu and trade union federation Cosatu led the march to the Hoerskool Overvaal secondary in Vereeniging.

The protest North Gauteng High Court Judge Bill Prinsloo’s denial the previous day of an appeal by Sedibeng East district education director Dorah Moloi against last week’s ruling in favour of the school.

Protests began last week after the school refused the education department’s request to take in 55 pupils, saying it had no capacity.

In his ruling, Judge Prinsloo said the education department’s claim that the school had four unused classrooms had not been backed up by an affidavit from Ms Moloi.

He accepted the school’s argument that the department’s offer to second one English-speaking teacher for the 55 pupils was unrealistic as that would mean exceeding class size limits and that the teacher would have to teach all nine core subjects.

Sadtu favours teaching all pupils in their home language.

The judge also criticised Ms Moloi’s ”uncompromising and biased approach” in December when she described Afrikaans as “a language that was used as a tool of segregation and discrimination during apartheid.”

Afrikaans is the first language of almost seven million South Africans, the majority of them Cape Coloureds who were oppressed under apartheid. Around 600,000 black Africans also speak it as their mother tongue.

Many heroes of the anti-apartheid struggle were Afrikaners. 

The row could damage  ANC chances of making inroads into the opposition Democratic Alliance’s dominance of Western Cape province, which is currently suffering a water shortage crisis blamed on provincial government mismanagement.

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