Classes to resume at Elsenburg following protests

Classes at the Elsenburg Agricultural College are set to resume this afternoon (2 September) following student protests over the Western Cape institution’s language policy.

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Classes were suspended yesterday after a clash broke out involving students in EFF regalia.

Annette Steyn, the DA shadow minister for agriculture, lashed out at the EFF, saying it was “sowing racial division and hatred” among students.

“This will only result in more conflict on our campuses – when we should all be working together to build an inclusive environment for all,” said Steyn in a statement.

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Henk Maree, national chairperson of AfriForum Youth, said the protests were not focussed on language issues, “but rather on provoking a racial incident” and “harsh and fair action must now be taken by management”.

But EFF student leader Liphelo Mpumlwana, a third-year viticulture and oenology student, would have none of it. “We are not causing chaos, we are fighting for our rights. The DA is cocooning apartheid and Afrikaans culture,” she told Farmer’s Weekly.

Mpumlwana said classes would resume this afternoon. “There is a court interdict. The management threatened to call the police to arrest us if we disrupt classes. But we won’t give up the fight,” she said.

Agri Western Cape said in a statement the chaos that erupted at the college should be attributed to the institution’s top management for failing to act earlier to address the issue.

“Urgent intervention is needed within the college’s management, especially with regards to contingency plans to apply more effective legal action and affirmative action should similar future situations occur,” said Carl Opperman, Agri Western Cape CEO.

Similar future situations must be prevented at all cost to repair the College to its rightful position where quality training breeds top future producers, Opperman said.