A classroom picture of white and black pupils sitting at different tables in a South African school has gone viral and is sparking outrage online.
Parents dropped off their kids on Wednesday morning at the Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke in the country’s North West region, but none could have imagined that the school would be besieged by protesters the next morning.
It all started when a class teacher tried to reassure parents of their children’s wellbeing and shared a picture of the kids in class to the school's private WhatsApp group.
The picture showed white kids at one table while their black colleagues sat in the distance at another table.
It didn’t take long for the photo to make it to social media where it understandably sparked outrage and brought accusations of racial segregation against the school.
According to Sello Lehare, the education minister for the North West province, the school’s justification for the seating arrangement is that:
"The learners were separated according to those who could understand Afrikaans and English."
"We did not accept the explanation," Lehare reportedly informed community members.
TimesLive also noted that after parents complained about the picture to school management, they were sent a different one after the children’s break. In this remedial image, the kids were all seating together and not separated according to race.
The local education department immediately launched a probe into the incident and had fired the class teacher involved with immediate effect.
"We are suspending her [the teacher] because we want the investigation to be fair and free," said Lehare.
By Thursday morning, the school was swarmed by protesters including political party members and concerned parents.
One parent explained:
"The incident happened at a class next to my child's class. She was not affected but this segregation cannot continue. Our children cannot experience what our parents went through during apartheid."
It has been almost 25 years since the oppressive and racist Apartheid ruling system was retired, but many argue that there are still traces of racism and sadly, this picture appears to confirm that opinion.