Chaos as South African opposition party members storm school over teaching Shona language


South Africa’s opposition Patriotic Alliance (PA) party has come under scrutiny for its targeting of schools suspected of enrolling Zimbabwean students, raising concerns of potential xenophobic attacks on foreigners. The party’s actions are part of a broader campaign leading up to South Africa’s upcoming elections.

The PA recently made headlines when its leadership deployed members to patrol the Beitbridge Border Post, allegedly targeting suspected illegal border jumpers. In a recent statement, the party called for an audit of permits, residence documents, job visas, and asylum seeker records of Zimbabwean nationals, spanning from 1994 to 2024.

In their latest demonstration, PA members, led by deputy president Kenny Kunene, stormed Esikhisini School in Pretoria to protest the enrolment of Zimbabwean learners. The party also voiced opposition to the election of a Zimbabwean into the school’s parents’ association.

Kunene, who is campaigning for the premiership of Gauteng province, confirmed the visit to the school on social media platform X. He stated, “Today we went to Esikhisini Primary School to make sure that Shona is not taught at that school, and we also made a call for the chairperson of SGB (School Governing Body) who is a Zimbabwean to be removed. Indeed, some children are from Zimbabwe and they must be replaced by SA children.”

According to Kunene, the demonstration was prompted by claims that the school had enrolled 60 Zimbabwean students, allegedly denying places to South African nationals. He also alleged that the unnamed chairperson of the School Governing Body was pushing for the teaching of Shona at the school, a claim refuted by the school’s principal, Nkabinde.

Kunene and his followers plan to investigate the enrolment figures further, and he vowed to express his displeasure to education offices if he assumes the premiership. He also stated that, if elected, he would discourage schools from enrolling foreign nationals altogether.

Kunene’s controversial past includes involvement in student politics, imprisonment at the age of 15 for his role in student uprisings in the Free State, and subsequent engagement as a motivational speaker and active participant in local politics.

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