Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has reiterated that he does not hate the Afrikaans language, but says he will continue in his fight for non-racialism in schools across the province.
"I do not hate Afrikaans. I respect all 11 of the official languages and I will respect mother tongue education.
"But if you want to learn in Afrikaans, it does not mean that the whole school must be taught in Afrikaans. There can be English and Sepedi in one school. Our children can learn together," Lesufi told stakeholders at consultative meeting at Nasrec Expo Centre on Friday.
Among those attending the consultative meeting are pupils, principals and members of school governing bodies (SGBs).
Non-racialism remains a priority for the MEC despite the amount of criticism he has received from various lobby groups with an interest in the Afrikaans language.
Lobby group AfriForum previously accused the Lesufi of having a negative attitude toward the Afrikaans language, and that he was making decisions that could kill the language.
AfriForum further accused Lesufi of committing "a serious invasion of Afrikaans speakers' dignity", News24 previously reported.
"Lesufi's depreciatory attitude concerning Afrikaans and Afrikaans speakers is displayed by his point of view that Afrikaans isn't worth fighting for and that the speakers of the language will be hampered if they insist on their mother tongue.
"Lesufi is pretending to be a protagonist against racism, but simultaneously doesn't hesitate to express offensive utterances toward the Afrikaans speaking section of the population," AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel said in a statement in May.
Lesufi assured stakeholders, that under his watch, the days of learners being turned away from a school because of language were "long gone".
"Let them fight me, I don't hate any language, but I will defend non-racialism, whatever it takes.
"Apartheid was man-made and it will be destroyed by humankind," he added, to rousing applause.
The MEC's address was to be followed by various commissions where learners, principals and members of SGBs were due to exchange on education in the province for the next five years.