Charges withdrawn against Philippi High learners who protested against learning in ‘shipping containers’

Eight learners from Phillippi High in the Western Cape were released without charge on Wednesday after being detained overnight at Nyanga police station. They and seven other learners were arrested on Tuesday evening on charges of public violence.

“Fifteen learners were arrested for public violence in Heinz Park after a protest in their school. Seven of them were juveniles and were dealt with in terms of Child Justice Act,” sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana from the SAPS Western Cape media centre told the Daily Vox.

On Tuesday learners blocked roads and burned tyres in protest of their learning conditions. Public order police reportedly used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the learners.

Philippi High learners have been protesting for over a year against being taught in what they have described as “shipping containers” – temporary classrooms set up on the school grounds. The students have been demanding that the Western Cape Education department build actual school buildings for them.

A Western Cape Education Department spokesperson Paddy Attwell confirmed that learners of Philippi High were appearing in court but denied that students were being taught in shipping containers.

“According to our infrastructure people the school is comprised of ‘mobile classrooms’ which are purpose-built for the function – they’re not reconverted [sic] shipping containers,” said Attwell.
He said the department is currently designing a permanent brick-and-mortar school building and that construction would likely begin later this year.

The current wave of protests began on Monday when, according to GroundUp, 150 students marched to Metro South Education District Office and demanded that the promised new school be built.
Student activist Alex Hotz has been following the learners in their struggle for an appropriate learning environment and says learners need more support.

“They’ve been supporting themselves alone through all this. They’ve self-organised and are getting support from other schools in the area, such as Gugulethu Secondary,” Hotz said.
All images courtesy of M’Afrika Anele on Facebook

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