The Human Rights Commission has expressed concern over an increase in racial polarisation in South Africa, saying the involvement of political parties in such incidents threatens the sense of social cohesion in the country.

The remarks follow racism claims against Brackenfell High School, in the Western Cape, and the chaos that broke out at Senekal in the Free State during the appearance of two farm murder suspects.  

The SAHRC says it will institute a number of initiatives aimed at addressing social cohesion in the country as well as in schools.   

Commissioner Andre Gaum says they will also engage with the Chief Whips of all political parties to address their respective parties involvement in enhancing social cohesion, especially in the lead up to next year’s local government elections.

“We really believe that our national project of nation building and social cohesion is under threat and in view of that and the systemic issues that seem to underpin some of the occurrences that have taken place around the country, we will convene a summit on rising racial tension and racial polarisation and additionally to that, we will also convene an inquiry into social cohesion and nonracialism in schools which should take place early 2021,” says Gaum. 

We have also approached all the chief whips of the political parties to discuss them the right to protest and hate speech particularly in the buildup to the local government elections. 

Police fire water cannon and stun grenades to disperse protestors at Brackenfell High School:

Meanwhile, on Monday eight members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) briefly appeared in the Blue Downs Magistrate’s Court, near Bellville, on charges of public violence.

They were arrested during an anti-racism protest outside the Brackenfell High School on Friday. Police used teargas, stun grenades and a water cannon to control the crowd. 

The accused were not asked to plead and were later released on a warning.  The case has been postponed to the 12th of February. 

A person who was arrested for incitement of violence after confronting EFF Secretary-General, Marshall Dlamini, has not appeared in court.  

The NPA says the docket has been returned to the police for further investigation. 

The City of Cape Town says it is evaluating the cost of damages to the municipal property during Friday’s protest. It says preliminary reports indicate that a fire engine was torched and roads and traffic lights damaged.