Today Equal Education will hold a picket together with learners of Moshesh at the Maluti district office to demand that the district adhere to a court order handed down last year in the Bhisho high court. The learners are demanding to be taught and want the district to provide teachers for their school. These learners have spent two years without 8 substantive teacher posts.
Equal Education followed due procedure and applied for permission to protest on the 22nd of April. On the 29th of April, Equal Education and the Equal Education Law Centre sat in a meeting with 17 people with the SAPS represented, SADTU, Law Enforcement, Municipal Manager, Maluti Education district deputy director and the circuit manager to discuss the application to gather in terms of the Gatherings Act. It was decided that the application will be denied. EE stated in that meeting that there was no legal basis for the protest to be denied. The only way the protest could be denied permission was if there was reason to believe that the protest would turn violent. As track record shows, EE does not have a history of violent protest even when there are thousands of learners gathered.
We are shocked and disappointed that on the eve of elections, the rights of young people to protest an unjust education system are taken away. The right to gather is an integral part of our democracy and one of the ways in which we can participate in a democracy. We have decided to go ahead with the protest in separate groups of 15 because the regulation of gatherings act states that no official permission is needed for groups of 15 or less.
Should any of our staff members, learners or parents get arrested for exercising their rights enshrined in the constitution, we will defend them and fully make use of the law to challenge what would be state repression. Even on the eve of elections we intend to continue doing our work and exercise our rights.
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