THE South African police have fired tear gas at opposition activists protesting against alleged racism at a Cape Town school where a so-called ‘whites-only’ year-end dance party was allegedly hosted last month.
Anti-riot police on Friday fired tear gas and water cannon towards nearly 2,000 members of the radical left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party gathered near the school.
‘Police fired tears, stun grenade and used water cannons to prevent the protesters from approaching the school,’ Al Jazeera’s Fahmida Miller reported from Cape Town.
The protesters dispersed and regrouped a few blocks away.
Miller said the protesters were ‘quite peaceful’ and have accused the police of being heavy-handed.
‘They are also angry at the police and saying they won’t respond in the same manner against white protesters,’ she said.
Police later told the protest organisers only 100 people were allowed to march to the school.
The protests were the latest in a string of demonstrations against alleged racism at Brackenfell High School following the party held sometime late in October.
‘There are black students at the school who say they have been discriminated against. They are saying none of them were invited to the function,’ Al Jazeera’s Miller reported.
Few days after the party, EFF members tried to march to the school but were blocked by some of the students’ parents resulting in fistfights.
Widely shared video footage showed dramatic scenes of angry white parents punching EFF’s Black protesters on the streets on November 9.
The confrontation disturbed President Cyril Ramaphosa who called for an investigation, describing the clashes as ‘deeply regrettable’.
‘The spectacle of parents and protestors coming to blows at the school gate is deeply unfortunate,’ said Ramaphosa, adding the development brought ‘back hurtful memories of a past we should never seek to return to.’
The clashes occurred a few weeks after similarly racially-charged protests in the central farming town of Senekal over the brutal murder of a white farm manager by suspected Black assailants.
Despite the end of apartheid a generation ago, racial tensions in South Africa often remain high.
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