‘What does race have to do with it?’

2015-02-22 18:00

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Black parents faced off against their coloured counterparts at Roodepoort Primary School in Davidsonville this week – but the neighbourhood’s community leaders insist racism is not an issue.

Instead, they’re blaming the “irregular” appointments of a principal and two deputy principals for the fracas.

Davidsonville is a predominantly coloured area within Joburg’s Ward 71, which also includes Witpoortjie, Groblerpark and Lindhaven.

According to Census 2011 data, aggregated by wazimap.co.za, the ward’s residents are primarily black African – 42% compared with 17% coloured. The most common home language is Afrikaans and the DA governs the ward, having picked up 60% of the votes in the 2014 elections.

Theo van Rensburg, chairperson of the Davidsonville Steering Committee, told City Press that this week’s parent protests were entirely about senior appointments.

“This was never about race. We want the best for the school,” Van Rensburg said yesterday.

But emotional parents this week split into racially constituted groups, with black parents saying the school was behaving in a racist manner.

They accused coloured parents of not wanting Nomathemba Molefe as the principal. Coloured parents, on the other hand, said their children needed a principal of their own race.

Van Rensburg said Molefe’s appointment in 2011, her deputy Tiny Mavimbela’s in 2013 and a second deputy’s in May last year had all been irregular.

The second deputy’s name could not be confirmed and Molefe could not be reached for comment.

Van Rensburg claimed that more suitably qualified candidates for all three posts were overlooked.

Moreover, he said, the district education department had disbanded the school governing body and made the appointments.

But an independent team of attorneys appointed by Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi last year to probe these allegations found no irregularities.

Brandon Rousseau, the secretary of the Davidsonville Steering Committee, called the investigators’ work shoddy and unreliable.

This week Lesufi held a series of meetings in Davidsonville to try to resolve the impasse, which had kept pupils out of class all week.

An acting principal has been appointed, and Molefe and her deputies have been asked to report to the education department’s district office.

So will this week see repeats of the heated, aggressive parent exchanges and racially themed posters outside Roodepoort Primary School’s gates?

Rousseau insists not, saying everything will be back to normal tomorrow.

“All we want is for our children, black and coloured, to get an education.”

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