George Cato Primary: White, Indian staff say things are at breaking point

2008-02-26 00:00

THE volatile racial situation at George Cato Primary appears to have reached breaking point, with 11 of the white and Indian teachers officially requesting special leave from the Education Department until the situation is “suitably resolved”.

They said they applied for the leave on the recommendation of their unions.

The teachers handed their letters to the chair of the Displacement of Educators committee on Friday after two of them were allegedly pushed off the road by a black teacher on Thursday. Other teachers in the car allegedly jeered and made rude gestures.

“We are constantly victimised and threatened … We are being sworn at in front of the children and we have had enough,” said the group.

They said the situation reached boiling point after white and Indian teachers were held hostage earlier this month and has since deteriorated.

They claim to have received no support from the acting principal, who they allege is in cahoots with the black teachers and was part of the crowd of protesters in January.

A teacher said a number of children have left, and the rest are unsettled.

“They are using the children and influencing them and this has affected the children’s behaviour.”

Some of the white and Indian teachers want to carry on working at the school and asked why they should be driven out.

“The point is we want the department to deal with the intimidation by taking all the instigators to task.”

They said they have not been given a chance to raise their grievances with the department.

The teachers said last week they were told by the department to go on an all-expenses-paid holiday together to reconcile or face the indefinite closure of the school, with no pay.

But the Indian and white teachers said they are unwilling to do so until they have received an apology, and their principal has been reinstated.

Meanwhile, the teachers say their union, the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA, is preparing to make a submission to the Human Rights Commission and the Public Protector.

The Education Department said it will bring in an independent body to assist with diversity management. Superintendent-general Cassius Lubisi has scheduled a meeting with the teachers within the week.

sphumem@witness.co.za

stephs@witness.co.za

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