As the situation escalated Western Cape EFF chairperson Melikhaya Xego said he was appalled at the behaviour and aggression he witnessed at the organisation’s protest outside Brackenfell High School.

Xego made the remarks after police arrested a Brackenfell resident who opened fire during a protest against alleged racism at Brackenfell High School. The protest had turned violent after EFF members arrived on the scene.

A man, 39, was arrested after he fired several shots into the air from within a group of crowded protesters outside of the high school.

While the man was reportedly first charged with attempted murder, the police later confirmed he had been charged for public violence and not attempted murder, as previously indicated.

Police spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana said “A 39-year-old suspect was arrested and taken into custody after he fired several shots during a protest gathering.”

“Police took action to disperse the crowd, and no injuries were reported. No other arrests have been effected yet at this stage and a case of public violence will be opened for investigation. Police will remain in the area until law and order is restored.”

The suspect, who was recorded firing three shots into the air while standing in the middle of a volatile crowd, said he had seen firing his 9mm imitation firearm as the only way to disperse the group of EFF members who had begun throwing stones and sticks at a crowd of residents.

He said: “My gun is only an imitation firearm. It only shoots blanks that wouldn’t hurt anyone. I only fired the gun because EFF members had begun throwing stones and sticks at residents who were blocking their entry into the community.

According to reports from the scene, the violence started with an unprovoked attack on an EFF member.

Xego further said the organization had reached out to the principal and governing body to request a meeting where they could discuss the situation amicably, but was shocked to be confronted by a group of armed white civilians and security who began intimidating and physically assaulting peaceful protesters.

“We are not happy about what’s happening here today. Our intention was not to cause any chaos but to peacefully protest against the racism at this school. We stand against racism as the EFF, and we have proof that the function was a racist act.

“We want the school to hold those responsible accountable. They need to take action against the teachers who thought it was okay to plan and attend that event.

Xego added that “We cannot condone racism any longer and we refuse to. We will come back again and again until action is taken against the teachers”.