Pupils of a Cape Town school have called for the immediate suspension of the principal and disciplinary action against seven teachers – including the “head of hair” – for “institutional racism”.
The pupils claim teachers at Sans Souci High School have referred to black pupils as “baboons” and “hyenas”, naming the teachers who allegedly used the slurs.
In addition they have demanded the abolition of the “dompas” – a book recording transgressions such as speaking isiXhosa at school.
The allegations are contained in a scathing 13-page memorandum drawn up by pupils, parents and alumni of the Cape Town school.
It was presented to Western Cape education officials last night.
Last week, children at the historic school spoke out about the language restrictions and even the banning of certain hairstyles.
But the memorandum detailed even more shocking allegations against staff. These include:
- Placing a pupil on detention for using the word “amandla”;
- A teacher known as the “head of hair” constantly humiliating pupils with banned hairstyles;
- Black students referred to as “hyenas” and “baboons’, and
- Denying pupils permission to go to the bathroom “resulting in humiliation on several occasions”.
They called for the “immediate dismissal” of the principal without pay or benefits as she had been “the gatekeeper of institutional racism at the school”.
The school governing body has also been accused of failing to “hold this school’s principal and her executive management accountable for these gross violations”.
Education MEC Debbie Schaffer’s spokeswoman Jessica Shelver said they had seen the “dompas” books and had embarked on an investigation.
Some pupils have since destroyed their “dompas” books.
“It’s completely absurd. These allegations are very serious. The principal won’t report for school for the duration of the investigation,” Shelver said.
Pupils said they would be given demerits for speaking Xhosa, Zulu, and other African languages on the playground, in class, and in corridors.
“We now call it a dompas. For example, if you don’t do your homework, you get a demerit. For different things like speaking your language . . . they give you a demerit,” one pupil said.
She said 10 demerits constituted an “intervention” or “detention”.
Former San Souci pupil and 2014 head girl Nicole Jones said prefects had been given very strict instructions to crack down on isiXhosa speakers.
“We were told in weekly prefect meetings that girls were not to speak isiXhosa,” she said.
Shelver said: “Learners cannot be prejudiced for speaking their home language.”