Pupils band together against principal

2013-06-16 06:00

Pupils of Nansindlela­ School in Ingwavuma have banded together to drive out their “politically connected” principal.

Last month, the KwaZulu-Natal education department set up a commission to investigate Linda Skhonyana ­after protests sparked by ­burglaries at the school in which school fees, which he ­allegedly demanded be paid in cash, disappeared.

Since then, Skhonyana, who is also the chair of a local branch of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), has not turned up for school.

Matric pupil Rolihlahla ­Mzimela, the chairperson of the newly formed Nansindlela students’ forum, said they ­decided to take matters into their own hands and refused to be taught after they lost all faith in district officials.

“Skhonyana used to boast and threaten us all the time, telling us that he was politically connected and that we could not do anything to him,” he said.

When approached for comment about the allegations, Skhonyana declined, saying the matter was “sub judice”.

Mzimela said pupils became suspicious after school management failed to inform the parents of the latest break-ins.

They were also allegedly reported to police only a week later.

But the last straw was when pupils allegedly heard Skhonyana telling the night security guard to call him first, and not the police, if anything happened.

Mzimela claimed some members of the Nansindlela students’ forum had received death threats, allegedly from ­local education officials.

“When we decided to strike, police used spray guns on us. We have been grabbed by our clothing by officials, who are Sadtu members in the district, who threatened to close the school down and to kill us,” he claimed.

In addition to writing to the MEC’s office, pupils have also written to ­President Jacob Zuma and to the provincial police commissioner for help.

Skhonyana, who is from Soweto, joined the school as a junior teacher in 2002 and ­became principal in 2009.

Makhayandile Madikane, the secretary for Sadtu’s North Coast region under which Skhonyana’s branch falls, said he could not comment since his office had not been contacted by either Skhonyana or the ­department of education about the matter.

All provincial education spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa would say was that a formal investigation has been completed.

He added that the findings were “receiving attention”.

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