The Presidency of South Africa has referred the matter of reported racism incidents in Boksburg (Gauteng) school and subsequent demand of investigation into prevalence of racism in South Africa schools to Ministry of Basic Education.
In an email from Pretoria to Hindu statesman Rajan Zed; Matho Mhlongo, Director Support Services of The Presidency, wrote: “Please note that the matter has been referred to Mr Steve Mabua, Private Secretary to the Minister of Basic Education for her attention.”
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, had earlier asked for nationwide investigation into prevalence of racism in South Africa schools in view of the reported incidents of racism in Boksburg school. Supporting Zed’s demand, Rabbi ElizaBeth W. Beyer, prominent Jewish leader in western USA; and Reverend Jikai’ Phil Bryan, well known Buddhist leader in Nevada (USA); had also stressed that South African President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma and Gauteng Premier Nomvula Paula Mokonyane should come out openly and strongly against this racist episode and make sure that such incidents did not happen in the future.
Thanking the South African Presidency for quick response, Rajan Zed, in a statement today, said that he hoped that Basic Education Ministry would thoroughly look into the issue of racism in South African schools and come up with effective, long-lasting and practical solutions. There should not be any place for racism in 21st century South Africa, Zed noted.
Earlier; Zed, Rabbi Beyer and Reverend Bryan; in a joint statement in Nevada, said that it was highly disturbing and unacceptable that innocent, primary schoolchildren had to go through such racist nightmare, including verbal abuse and discrimination, just for wearing traditional Hindu red string around their wrists as reported in Boksburg.
According to reports, one grade-three student faced racial and derogatory slurs for the last three years (it started when he was in grade one) from the teacher in front of classmates for wearing the religious string and was asked to remove it. When complained, he was told to hide the red string with a jersey. Several other parents have since come out with similar allegations.
Hinduism was oldest and third largest religion of the world with a rich philosophical thought. Why should we hide our sacred red threads and other symbols as we were proud of our heritage, traditions and religion? Rajan Zed argued.
Zed, ElizaBeth Beyer and Phil Bryan further said that although the suffering which these tender-aged children and their families endured would be difficult to properly redress, the affected families should be paid adequate compensation for the irreparable damage. Action should be taken against the teachers who committed the abuse and their superiors who protected them and let it happen.
Hindus, who have been in South Africa since 1700s, had made great contributions to the success of South Africa. How long we would stay as “coolie” in the racist mindset, Rajan Zed asked.
Boksburg, where gold was discovered in 1887, forms part of Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality with Mondli Gungubele as the Mayor. Boksburg is home to Boksburg Lake and East Rand Mall and figure skater Konrad Giering was born here.
Hindus form a considerable part of South Africa population; elaborate Diwali festivals are held in Johannesburg and Cape Town every year; and there are Hindu temples and ashrams in Johannesburg, Durban, etc.