Parents planned to burn down school – Lesufi

2015-04-17 21:33

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Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says “shocking intelligence” revealing deliberations in a community meeting to burn down Roodepoort Primary School is one of the reasons he took a decision to close the troubled school indefinitely.

Lesufi today said the meetings he had with the community – and agreed to their demands for investigations into their allegations – did little to remedy the situation at the Davidsonville-based school in the West Rand.

He said his officials were busy consulting with lawyers preparing to apply for a court interdict against the community members who are “disrupting school”.

The school will only open once safety for teachers and pupils can be assured, said Lesufi.

His department said the interdict would prevent the community from “perpetrating any acts which are violent and disruptive in nature against the learners and or employees of the department”.

The school has been in the news for what has sometimes been interpreted as a racially-motivated action by coloured parents against black employees at the school.

School was disrupted earlier this year by community members who asked Lesufi to replace principal Nomathemba Molefe and her two deputies. It was believed that the coloured community did not want a black principal at the helm of the school with high enrolment of coloured pupils and based in a predominantly coloured area.

Lesufi said he had agreed to many demands made by the community and parents in the interest of “peace and stability” at the school. He said then the community asked for him to appoint “someone close to them and I complied” once again.

The MEC said he also complied with at least four requests for different investigations into allegations of financial misappropriation against Molefe and others as well as probing of the validity of their employment.

He said they also demanded that he dissolve the school’s governing body – which he did. “No one can now blame me. I have done everything humanly possible to ensure sanity and that problems at the school are resolved,” said Lesufi.

“I have extended my hand to this community several times. What is happening now is provocation beyond endurance.”

Lesufi said the community was this week given the outcome of the KPMG report which cleared Molefe of any wrongdoing. Investigations have also found nothing untoward with how Molefe got the position as a principal. Molefe has also been exonerated by the report from allegations of financial misappropriation.

Lesufi said he had asked the community to look at the report and its recommendation and revert to him but instead they went back to interrupt learning at the school.

He said a group of community members went to the school today with their own locks, chain and “forcefully chased away teachers”.

“They took school keys and refused to hand them back,” he said. The department said the group barred learners and teachers from entering school premises.

Lesufi warned those disrupting school to “watch out” adding that the “future of our children cannot be postponed by anarchists”.

He said he was “very reluctant to say racism is at play” at Roodepoort primary. “It is anarchy,” he said.

Without elaborating any further, Lesufi said there was more to the incidents at the school. “It’s about local government elections; about people who believe their (skin) colour determines who must be the principal, about resources of the school and who controls the school. I might be wrong but I might be right,” he said.

Meanwhile, until the school reopens, parents have been asked to place their children at neighbouring schools such as Princess, Culembeek and Die Ruiter primary schools.

“The Johannesburg West District Office will be at hand to assist parents with the placement of pupils. The department has set up operational centres for parents who want to enquire about placements of pupils at alternative schools,” said the department.

“These are located at Davidsonville community hall in Roodepoort, Matholeville community hall in Roodepoort as well as Mezodo Technical High School in Dobsonville. The centres will be operational from April 20 2015 between 9am and 12pm.”

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