25/01/2018 13:40 SAST | Updated 25/01/2018 14:09 SAST

Sadtu And Allies March On Hoërskool Overvaal With Memorandum

ANC's Sipho Nhlengethwa says: "It's not about colour; let's look after our future leaders."

Pontsho Mabena

The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) and its Cosatu affiliates, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru), the National Association of School Governing Bodies (NASGB) and the ANC, are marching on Hoërskool Overvaal in Vereeniging to hand over a memorandum of demands to the school's governing body.

Pontsho Mabena

The ANC's Sipho Nhlengethwa said that at issue is simply the fact that the 55 English-speaking children denied entry to the school now have to travel about 15km to school and back every day, while there is a school closer to them.

"We are for democracy as the ANC," he said. "[But] as much as we respect the court decision, these children denied, they reside [near] the school. We are saying: can [they] accept these 55 learners, [so] they can learn with other kids in the school?"

Pontsho Mabena

School activities have been halted for the day. However, the hundreds of protesters are expecting a department of education official to be present.

Nhlengethwa said the school should "open the doors of learning for everyone".

"It's not about colour; let's look after our future leaders," he said.

Emily Swartz, a Vereeniging resident, told HuffPost it was reasonable that the school be closed for the safety of children.

"I think it is unfair that the kids had to miss school today, but we have to be realistic – it's not safe. These people protesting have been vandalising property."

Another resident, Mpho Dithebe, believes that the school should have allowed the department to put measures in place for an English class.

"I doubt this [exclusion would] be the case if it were white people," he said.