Cape Argus, 4 June 2008
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The role children played in instigating xenophobic violence has emerged just two weeks after the attacks took place in Johannesburg and elsewhere. A little-known fact is that the xenophobic attacks in Gauteng were actually started in schools. Two weeks before the attacks flared up in Alexandra, the Gauteng Department of Education had problems in Pretoria, where schoolchildren were beating up heir classmates and throwing them out of school for being immigrants. Minister of Education Naledi Pandor admitted to a group of schoolchildren in Cape Town last week that she was disturbed by the images of children being used by adults to perform violent acts. "You as young people must not follow what the adults are doing," Pandor told a group of pupils. "You must carve a new way. The youth of South Africa must start a 'stop xenophobia' campaign. "Old people are using young people in the frontlines of these attacks. This abuse must stop," Pandor said. Other education experts agree and are demanding that research be done to probe the harm this has caused to children, whose minds will forever be tainted by hate, and to the immigrant children who no longer feel safe at school.