President Cyril Ramaphosa has described the confrontation outside Brackenfell High School in Cape Town as deeply regrettable and has called on all parties involved to act responsibly.
On Monday, Brackenfell residents and EFF protesters squared up when the party protested about a private event held by Brackenfell High School parents that was allegedly only attended by white pupils.
Video footage showed angry members of the Brackenfell community and EFF protesters facing off. After a heated exchange, punches were thrown.
“At this most important and difficult time for matriculants not only at Brackenfell High School but around the country, the spectacle of parents and protesters coming to blows at the school gate is deeply unfortunate,” Ramaphosa said.
“It is the right of every South African to engage in peaceful protest, and any actions to suppress the right to freedom of expression, particularly through violence and intimidation, must be roundly condemned.
“What happened today [Monday] brings back hurtful memories of a past we should never seek to return to,” Ramaphosa said.
He added that allegations of racism levelled against the school needed to be urgently investigated.
“We should be ever mindful of the extent to which our actions, both publicly and in private, undermine the cherished principle of nonracialism upon which our democracy was founded,” Ramaphosa said.
He called on all parties concerned to exercise restraint and to resolve their differences peacefully and through dialogue.
“We should not allow what has transpired at Brackenfell High School to be used by any groupings who want to cause racial polarisation,” Ramaphosa said.