Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Commission) has criticised a Christian school in Johannesburg for barring a grade two learner from attending classes after he wore wearing a cultural bracelet made of animal skin, known as isiphandla.
The nine-year-old was prevented from entering the Christian Life Private School in Buccleuch last week after wearing the cultural band.
His parents were given a letter stating that their aim is not to discriminate against any learners, however, the bracelet is not allowed to be worn at school as it contradicts the institution’s belief system.
A Commissioner at the CRL, Professor Pitika Ntuli, says learners have the right to exercise their cultural beliefs, regardless of the school they attend.
Ntuli says, “It is very unfortunate coming from a school that believes in Christ who says suffer little children to come unto me, for the kingdom of God is in them. As the Commission, we take a very dim view of such blatant action. In this country everybody has the right to send their child to any school and those parents also have the right to do so. If the case is brought to us we have the right to summon the principal to explain to us because we have the right to protect the cultural rights of that 9-year-old.”
‘Investigation to establish if the child’s rights have been infringed’
The South African Human Rights Commission says it will investigate will be launched.
The Commission Spokesperson Buang Jones says it is investigation will seek to establish if the child’s rights have been infringed.
Jones says, “The investigation will seek to ascertain whether the alleged incident constitutes a prima facie violation of the human rights of the learner. The assessment will seek to determine whether the right to equality on the grounds of culture, the right to human dignity, the freedom of religion, belief and opinion, the right to education, and the right to just administrative processes have been violated or not.”
— Buang Jones (@BuangJones) July 28, 2020
People shared their views on Twitter:
So some private schools still ban isiphandla. Do they even know what they are and what they signify. Do the same schools ban the wearing of crucifixes and hijabs? It is astonishing that such ignorance still prevails . We live in Africa .
— Teresa Oakley-Smith (@diversiterri) July 27, 2020
Based on who Christ was, Christians today would have never understood, tolerated nor accepted him. Christians doing a lot of things in his name, things he’d never do or entertain. Like he’d be bothered by isiphandla? Mxm. Worse, he was not even a Christian.
— Rami Chuene🌈🏳️🌈 (@ramichuene) July 27, 2020
People will hear what they want, I don’t think it’s against Christianity, it’s the way it’s been demonized, that’s my issue. My issue was wearing isiphandla at a black church, you go out of your way to wear what will hide it. The white church congregants didn’t mind.
— Zama (@Zamathenjwa_) July 28, 2020