The protests were the latest of a string of demonstrations against alleged racism at Brackenfell High School following the dance party held sometime late in October.
South Africa police on Friday fired teargas at opposition activists protesting against alleged racism at a Cape Town school where a whites-only year-end dance party was allegedly organised last month.
Anti-riot police aimed teargas and water cannon towards hundreds of members of the radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party gathered near the school.
The protesters dispersed and re-grouped a few blocks away.
Police later told the protest organisers that only 100 people were allowed to march to the school.
Few days after the party, EFF members tried marching to the school but were blocked by some of the students’ parents resulting in fistfights.
Widely shared video footage showed dramatic scenes of angry whites punching EFF’s black protesters on the streets on November 9.
The confrontation disturbed President Cyril Ramaphosa who called for a probe, describing the clashes as “deeply regrettable”.
“The spectacle of parents and protestors coming to blows at the school gate is deeply unfortunate,” said Ramaphosa, adding the development brought “back hurtful memories of a past we should never seek to return to”.
The clashes occurred a few weeks after similarly racially-charged protests in the central farming town of Senekal over the murder of a white farm manager by suspected black assailants.
Despite the end of apartheid a generation ago, racial tensions in South Africa often remain high.
A Dancing Nation In South Africa, Heritage Day was celebrated to the rhythm of the famous hit by the South African DJ Master KG.
Across the country, workers, national rugby team players and students could be seen doing the #JerusalemaDanceChallenge.
In a public address — which included the easing of coronavirus prevention restrictions, President Cyril Ramaphosa called on South Africans to participate in the challenge in celebration of the national culture.
The national dance challenge an ambience for the country to unwind to the notes of a gospel song that has become the soundtrack of a certain ode to lighter times during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Released in 2019 and already very popular on the African continent, the song Jerusalema found its way to social media in the form of a tiktok challenge where it blew up on a global scale. Since then, the #JerusalemaDanceChallenge has toured the world.
Angry South Africans demonstrate in front of Clicks Pharmacy stores after opposition EFF calls for protests.
Protesters have gathered outside several pharmacy chain stores in South Africa in reaction to a shampoo advertisement slammed by the critics as “racist”.
The advertisement, commissioned by the TRESemme hair company and carried on the Clicks pharmacies’ website, compared two photos of Black women’s hair with two photos of white women’s hair, labelling the natural hair “dry and damaged” and “frizzy and dull”, while the white women’s hair was “fine and flat” and “normal”.
The opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party on Monday called for demonstrations over the issue and rallied people to protest outside the company’s outlets.
“We will not permit the unrepentant and perverse racism of Clicks to go on in South Africa. #clicksmustfall,” the EFF posted on Twitter.
Local website TimesLive reported that at least one store had been petrol-bombed early in the morning, causing minor damage.
Videos on the EFF’s social media pages and in local media showed small groups of protesters – clad in the party’s red berets – dancing and singing protest songs in several malls.
Many on social media also expressed their outrage over the advertisement, with Black women posting photos of their hair with hashtags #RacismMustFall and #BlackHairIsNormal.
“Not only is this disrespectful to black lives, it is also evidence of an absence of representation and diversity within the organisation,” tweeted Zozibini Tunzi, who wears short natural hair and was crowned Miss Universe in December.
“And we are talking about a South Africa with a population of about 80 percent black people… No ways.”
Apology As anger over the advertisement grew, Clicks Pharmacy, one of the two largest retailers in the country with more than 500 stores, issued “an unequivocal apology” and pulled down the images.
“We are strong advocates of natural hair and are deeply sorry we have offended our natural hair community,” it said in a statement on its Twitter account on Friday.
“We have made a mistake and sincerely apologise for letting you down.”
Unilever SA, TRESemme’s parent company, published an apology on its website that read: “We are very sorry that images used in a TRESemme South Africa marketing campaign on the Clicks website promote racist stereotypes about hair.
“The campaign set out to celebrate the beauty of all hair types and the range of solutions that TRESemmé offers, but we got it wrong.”
Hair is a sensitive issue in many parts of Africa.
South African students have had to campaign in the past to be allowed to wear natural hairstyles – like dreadlocks, afros and cornrows – at school.
In 2018, the EFF staged protests, trashing outlets of Swedish clothing giant Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) in Johannesburg over a controversial advertisement featuring a Black boy.
A photo on H&M’s website of the boy wearing a green hoodie with the inscription “coolest monkey in the jungle” had triggered outrage on social media.
H&M and Clicks are not the only major companies to be hit by advertisement scandals in recent years.
Spanish clothing brand Zara in 2014 removed striped pyjamas with a yellow star after facing outrage over its resemblance to clothes worn by Jewish prisoners in concentration camps.
People Have Been Passing Away Over 14,000 lives claimed by covid-19 in South Africa since the onset of the pandemic. Hence, the government has since put strict virus-prevention regulations in place. A cautionary move that seems to be exacerbating an already traumatic experience for those looking to mourn their loved ones as per the cultural tradition.
People in South Africa usually hold funerals over the weekend. Now, with the rise in the frequency of the number deaths due to coronavirus infections, funeral houses are busier than ever and many families are forced to hold burial ceremonies during the week.
Traditions Viewed as Risky Tagu Sibeko, operations manager at Maziya Funerals in the township of Katlehong east of Johannesburg, explains the custom, “On Thursday, the family would come, wash the body and then after that we would coffin the body and then on a Friday we’re going to live with the body and the body would stay at home till Saturday when the funeral happens. And obviously the body would be moved and taken to the cemetery. That has completely changed.”
The usual cultural rituals to say goodbye to deceased loved ones are also not advised as they mainly include washing the body of the person by family. Much hygiene care and sanitary precautions have been in effect worldwide amongst essential workers handling corpses of those who pass away during these covid-times.
Usually, bodies are recovered from the hospital already heavily bagged for protection – and in some cases even labelled as “highly contagious,” without the intention of being opened. As such, the corporal washing custom is not possible.
Sibeko, also noted that this aspect of the South African burial tradition is what has been most disrupted during the pandemic.
A Downsized Affair In addition, a South African burial ceremony is typically an elaborate occasion where several people gather to mourn the deceased – many even coming from out of town and staying for overnight vigils. However, the current sanitary guidelines restrict the number of attendees to only 50 when normally they can go up to 100 in light of around 200 cases identified earlier this year by officials in the Eastern Cape province which were linked to funerals held in the cities of Port Elizabeth and Port St. Johns.
Carl van der Riet, Chief Operating Officer of Avbob funeral insurance company, explains how the attendee-restrictions on funeral services are affecting the South African people, “People process trauma in different ways and people rely on family networks to assist them and support them through times of bereavement like this. And that’s, you know, the one potential area of impact is that people no longer have that level of support and are no longer able to process trauma.”
People are finding different ways to mourn and cope In an already challenging time, the drastic change to the traditional burial rituals amongst family is daunting for many South Africans; However, so is having to pay a fine or face jail time for those found guilty of breaking these post-mortem sanitary regulations.
Pandemic Dying Down? As the country continues to gradually ease lockdown regulations, many South Africans are hopeful that these traditional rituals will be permitted once again.
South Africa has over half a million confirmed covid-19 cases and currently claims the sixth-highest number in the world.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa will appear before an integrity commission to answer questions about a controversial campaign donation. This is according to his governing party officials.
Senior member of the African National Congress, ANC Jessie Duarte, however has not specified when Mr Ramaphosa would present himself before the party panel.
Mr Ramaphosa, according to South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog, is alleged to have misled parliament about money he received in 2017, worth more than $36,000 (£27,000). Mr Ramaphosa maintains it was a donation towards his campaign for the ANC leadership.
As President, Mr Ramaphosa has staked his reputation on cleaning up the country’s politics since he replaced Jacob Zuma.