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Girls wage war with school over hair extension ban

By Everson Luhanga

When several girls in grades 9 to 12 arrived at Zitikeni secondary school in Tembisa on Monday and Tuesday, they were given an ultimatum: cut off their hair extensions or go home.

Some of the learners had to cut their hair right on the school premises in order to be accepted into classrooms.

Others were defiant and accused school officials of being jealous of their beautiful hair!

But nevertheless, the school said they would not accept the learners until their hair was “fixed”.

The issue boiled over when learners who camped outside the school gate said they would not go home or cut their hair until the school let them in.

One of the learners, Thelma Hololo, said the school’s code of conduct doesn’t entail a dress code and hairstyle. “For the teachers to just kick us out of the school without warning us is unacceptable,” said Thelma.

Thelma said the boy learners at the school are not treated the same, as they come to school with any haircut but are allowed to enter classes. “Because it is us girls, it is a problem for them,” she claimed.

Parents are divided on the matter. Some say they can’t allow their children to go to school with extended hair while others say let children do as they please.

But the big question is what the school allows and if parents of the learners are informed of the school’s code of conduct before such incidents happen.

Some people compared the incident with the 2016 Pretoria Girls High school where black students were instructed to straighten their hair. The issue turned into a racist debate.

One former learner at the school who identified himself as Kekana said the school rules have always prohibited learners from doing braids with their hair. “I was a learner at the school and during my time, teachers were not allowing us to do our hair the way these learners have done them. “Nothing has changed,” he said.

School officials were not authorised by the department to speak to the media.

Pictured above: A learner’s hair extension lies abandoned on the school premises after being cut from her head

Image source: Mfanelo Dzanibe

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