Kimberley Boys High removes apartheid flag
Kimberley Boys High has had a former South African flag hanging at the entrance of the school’s library until as late as July 2019. The orange, white and blue flag symbolising the apartheid regime from South Africa’s oppressive past was accompanied by the British flag on its left and democratic flag of South Africa in the centre of the foyer to the library.
The infamous case from the Nelson Mandela Foundation, represented by Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, in the Equality Court in the Johannesburg High Court wants the ban of the gratuitous display of the former SA flag. Afriforum, a white nationalist group in South Africa, linked to the Solidarity Trade Union stood to counter the application arguing that displays of the flag are protected by the right to freedom of expression. A lawyer based in Johannesburg explained, “The Afriforum’s argument can never be sustained as freedom of expression can be limited by section 36 of the constitution as it infringes on human dignity”.
Kimberley Boys High School has automatic protection under the 60-year rule contained in the National Heritage Resources Act and was declared a Provincial Heritage Site on the 16th of February 1990. Spokesperson for the Department of Education, Geoffrey Van Der Merwe elaborated on the symbolism of the apartheid flag, “The old South African flag reminds us of our painful history where the majority of our people were discriminated against. The democracy we are experiencing today is the result of bloodshed sacrifices that were made in order to bring about change in our country”.
The Frances Baard District Office, Department of Sports Arts and Culture and the Northern Cape Heritage Council met with the School Governing Body (SGB) and the school management team where it was concluded that the old South African flag be removed from the library. A follow up meeting will be conducted with the SGB and parents to ensure that this has happened. “The National Court Case that is still pending will serve as a guideline on the matter at hand,” Van der Merwe explained.
The Chairperson of the Old Boys Union, Tumelo Mochisane commented, “We are elated with the fact that the old South African flag has been removed. It was one of the agendas that we as a union wanted to see happening, the flag is not a symbol of pride for us in any way”.
Kimberley Boys High houses predominantly black learners and thus it is imperative that learners are able to take pride in their school without having to constantly be reminded of the unfair manner in which the generations before them had to live as they were dealt terrible ordeals under the apartheid government. That the oppressive flag had been allowed to hang there for such a long time is questionable but although only taken away now, in 2019, the removal of the apartheid flag in the library foyer shows that as a nation, we are slowly moving forward.