Politics closes school

2011-02-18 00:00

THE battle over hotly contested ANC nominations for candidates in the local government elections has spilled over into violence at a school in KwaXimba, outside Cato Ridge, and halted lessons for 10 days.

Education MEC Senzo Mchunu visited St Julius Secondary School and told the ANC in the area yesterday: “Politics should be kept out of the school. Right now the school is not in a position to operate, so there are going to be no lessons tomorrow.”

The trouble started when the principal, Phumzile Mvelase, governing body chairperson Bonga Mkhize and the teachers held a meeting with members of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) at the school at about 10 am on February 3. It is alleged that Mvelase cancelled lessons on the day.

Pupils were told that the ANCYL had come to praise the teachers for improving the matric results last year, but pupils said they were discussing ANC nominations for the upcoming local government elections.

Mchunu’s reprimand to the local ANC branch comes after pupils damaged school property and stoned teachers, senior education officials and police officers.

Mchunu was talking during an emergency meeting attended by about 200 people, including the pupils and their parents.

He also called for an investigation into the incident, the outcome of which might lead to action against the unruly pupils, the principal and school governing body members.

A case of public violence has been opened. Police said they will soon add charges of malicious damage to property and intimidation.

Classes last took place on February 4, and Mchunu said the lessons will only resume when it is safe for teachers to return to the school.

Pupils smashed windows last week, but on Wednesday they allegedly attempted to burn the school. They damaged a fridge, photocopier, textbooks and furniture. Education circuit manager Bheki Dlamini’s vehicle and those belonging to police were also damaged.

Mchunu said, “The principal escaped when she was attacked with stones and one of the teachers sustained an injury. We had to organise counselling for the teachers because they are too traumatised to return to school.”

Parents accused Mvelase, who they said is a member of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union and the ANC, of bringing politicians into the school during school hours.

“When we were attacking with stones we were merely targeting the principal, and not all the teachers.

“They came to school to discuss ANC politics and disturbed us from learning,” said pupil Bah Ndlovu.

Mchunu assigned Pinetown district education director Enock Kganye to investigate the matter and report to him by March 10.

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker confirmed that a case of public violence has been opened. and other cases will be added. “No one has been arrested yet,.

 

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