Johannesburg – Mpumalanga premier Refilwe Mtshweni- Tsipane has slammed the management of Witbank Technical High School for not doing its job following the violence that erupted at the school during a protest against racism and the unfair treatment of black pupils.
Irate black pupils and their parents who accused the school of discriminating against black children staged a protest at the gate of the school last week.
The protest became violent when a clash between black and white parents and pupils broke out.
The protest followed the suspension of some pupils after a video surfaced on social media showing black and white pupils fighting on the school’s premises last week.
One of the parents, Nomathemba Ntoula Williams, has called on the government to root out racism at the school. Williams is the mother of one of the grade 10 pupils who was suspended.
“Our children are even forced to learn in Afrikaans. When they complain, they tell them that the school belongs to Afrikaners,” she said.
“Everything in the schoolyard is written in Afrikaans. Even though the school is a multiracial facility, the content of its website is written in Afrikaans and 90% of the employees appearing on the website are white.” Among other grievances was the suspension of two black pupils who fought with three white pupils last week.
The parents alleged the white pupils were not suspended. Bahlulile Tshabalala, the mother of another suspended grade 10 pupil, said there were many racism-motivated incidents at the school.
“We are tired of the racism that is happening in this school. We want all the learners to be treated equally. We took to the streets because our children were suspended, while the white boys were allowed to write exams.
“We want the school to explain why they only suspended our children and also failed to follow a proper procedure. They told our sons not to go to school because it was not safe for them and we understood, but we were surprised to receive phone calls from the deputy principal informing us about the suspension of the boys. They were suspended in absentia.”
Speaking at the meeting that was held at Witbank Technical High School on Thursday, Mtshweni-Tsipane said the principal of the school did not play her role when handling the boys’ case.
“Had the principal done her job, we would not be here today talking about what happened. We also realised that most of the teachers and school governing body are predominantly white,” said Mtshweni-Tsipane.
“We know that there is a teacher who instigated the fight between the children. The school management must suspend all the children who were involved and disciplinary measures must be taken properly.”
She said the allegations of racism would be investigated. Classes are expected to resume tomorrow after education MEC Bonakele Majuba closed the school to calm tensions.
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