We need the best principal, regardless of race - Roodepoort community

2015-08-31 13:52
Parents and pupils outside Roodepoort Primary School. (Ahmed Areff, News24)

Parents and pupils outside Roodepoort Primary School. (Ahmed Areff, News24)

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Johannesburg - Davidsonville residents say they will accept a properly appointed principal at the troubled Roodepoort Primary School, regardless of race.

"What we are saying is we need the best person for our children, regardless of their colour," Davidsonville Community Forum leader Brendon Rousseau told media outside the locked gates of the school on Monday.

Earlier, members threatened to forcibly re-open the school - and gave some of the pupils gathered outside in their purple uniforms a bolt cutter to cut the chain on the gate, before taking away the tool.

The school, which has been mired in allegations of corruption and racism, was temporarily closed just over two weeks ago.

In the interim, some pupils were moved to Lufhereng Primary School in Soweto.

The forum's spokesperson Ronald Dyers said pupils who had not gone to that school, would be taken on Monday to nearby "church buildings" for "intermediary education".

"We hope we can get a possible solution to the problem. If [Roodepoort Primary] is not open tomorrow, we will decide on the next step," he said.

"This school was built by the community and it is basically unfair of [the] government, the premier and the MEC to close this school unilaterally without consulting the community."

Still hopeful

He said the community was still committed to working with a mediation task team appointed by the Gauteng department of education to find solutions.

"We will be meeting a delegation from the local [African National Congress] as well as a delegation from the neighbouring community [on Monday]," he said.

"We hope in these endeavours we can find a solution to present to the mediation team."

The residents maintained the appointment of the principal and her two deputies was irregular and two reports, one clearing their appointments and another by auditing firm KPMG clearing them of financial mismanagement, were incorrect.

An advisor to the forum, Leonard Martin, said the community was shocked at claims they were racist because the principal was black.

"There is no basis [for claims] this issue arose on the basis of race. It has to do with the correct performance in terms of the selection of staff and that's where the issue should be maintained," he said.

"The community would like to send a message to South Africa... that as citizens they have the right to call for accountability.

"The community wishes in the strongest possible terms to remove the discourse of race, which has come from certain senior levels of government and the department of education."

‘Not about race’

He said the demographics of the community "speak for itself".

"Children of different ethnic backgrounds have attended this school without the notion of race being introduced in their registration or their participation in the school."

Provincial education department spokesperson Phumla Sekhonyane told News24 last Tuesday the mediation team "has been given the space to conduct its work without any undue influence from the department, any group or individuals".

"It is on this basis the department has taken a decision to cease from making public any information that has a potential of being seen as determining a pre-perceived outcome of this process or influencing the ultimate decision of the task team until the team has concluded its work," she said.

The team initially had 48 hours to provide solutions. However residents were upset the team had asked for more time on several occasions.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  education  |  protests

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