Sadtu turned away from Westville Boys’

2013-11-12 00:00

A HANDFUL of Sadtu members were turned away from Westville Boys’ High School yesterday after demanding to discuss the T-shirts produced by the school’s Grade 12 pupils.

They also wanted to talk to Sadtu members who work at the school.

The school’s governing body chairperson Chris Bruorton said the members of the local branch of Sadtu arrived at the school during teaching hours without an appointment and when matrics were writing their exams, and that was why they were not granted access.

Bruorton said proper procedures need to be followed by any group visiting a school.

“The group of visiting Sadtu representatives were told that they could not meet their members during teaching time, which is entirely reasonable.”

The ANC last week fumed over T-shirts bearing images of President Jacob Zuma, former president Nelson Mandela, Bheki Cele and Julius Malema.

Zuma’s image was used with the backdrop “Fakers since 1994”, while Cele, Zuma and Malema were depicted as “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”.

The T-shirts were designed as part of visual arts pupils’ matric portfolios.

The school and the Department of Education later issued an apology.

Sadtu local branch secretary Themba Mazibuko said they were dismayed by how they were treated by the school.

He told The Witness that they were made to meet their members outside the school gates and accused the school of not recognising them as a trade union.

He said they visited the school to address their members and also engage headmaster Trevor Hall about issues including the T-shirts designed by Grade 12 pupils.

“We feel this institute still promotes an old apartheid era,” said Mazibuko.

He described the T-shirt with former president Nelson Mandela and a KFC logo as showing “despicable” taste.

“That an icon of the calibre of Mandela is still treated in this particular order is despicable. It’s despicable that in this day and age somebody has this mentality.”

When asked about freedom of speech and the fact that the T-shirts were part of the project curriculum, he questioned why this meant the T-shirts were part of a public display.

“I wonder if pupils were guided accordingly. It’s unacceptable. Why are they doing this when there are elections next year?”

The Witness has since learnt that the KFC logo on the T-shirt with Mandela crossing his fingers was designed when the elderly statesman fell ill.

KFC stands for “Keep Fingers Crossed” as a get well message for Mandela.

A Westville resident and art lover said the whole thing was “silly” when he heard about Sadtu’s protest.

Bruorton said they were committed to ensuring an examination environment that allows pupils to perform at their full potential.

“The SGB recognises all four teacher unions represented in this province, and we respect the role of unions as prescribed by relevant legislation. We do not, however, believe that the art works in question are a teacher union matter,” Bruorton added.

“Westville Boys’ High School is amongst the finest educational institutions one would find anywhere in the country. Our school is run in accordance with all relevant educational legislation and the Constitution of South Africa,” he added.

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