There is no evidence that people were excluded based on their race, Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer found, after she received a report on the Brackenfell High School “white matric ball” incident.
This despite the school’s governing body announcement last month that they would be reviewing their policy to include diversity training, promote inclusivity and change its hair policy.
Schäfer, who had dismissed allegations of racism when the scandal broke a month ago, reiterated that it was a private event organised by a parent disappointed that there would no matric ball due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Her statement read: “On 11 September, the school sent a letter to parents, advising them that the school’s matric farewell had been cancelled, because of an instruction from the education department.”
“Subsequently, a parent of one of the learners then decided to arrange a function for her daughter and some of her friends, as she wanted to do something special for her following the cancellation of the school’s farewell.”
Brackenfell High has been a battleground since parents, current and former pupils accused the school of organising a farewell party to which students of colour did not receive invitations.
The outcry escalated into violent clashes between parents and EFF protesters who called on teachers allegedly involved in arranging the event to be suspended.
The masquerade ball was held at a private wine estate on 17 October 2020. Tickets cost R500.
The MEC said: “I have seen the invitation, and there is no reference to the school at all.
“It specified that it was limited to 100 people, after the venue advised that they could increase the number of attendees from 50 to 100 as a result of the relaxation of Covid regulations.”
She added: “Four teachers were invited in their personal capacities, as they had close personal links to the organising parent.
“The school was aware that the event was happening, but the school and the organisers regarded it as a private event.
“It was thus not necessary to seek approval of the principal or the SGB.”
She also said reports that the head girl who is white did not attend the event due to black pupils not attending were false.
Explaining why videos and pictures of the event were shared on the school’s website and later removed, she said: “The media service provider, who is also used by the school, was asked to take photos at the event, and uploaded images from the event on the school’s website in error.
“Objections were then raised by other parents.
“The school did not give permission for this to be done, and the photos were removed.”