Lesufi gives Kempton Park school deadline to change hair policy

2017-07-25 19:18
Panyaza Lesufi. (Thapelo Maphakela)

Panyaza Lesufi. (Thapelo Maphakela)

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Johannesburg - Windsor House Academy has been given three months to come up with an inclusive code of conduct, according to Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.

This after 11 girls were allegedly kicked out of the school on Monday as a result of their hairstyles, according to Steve Mabona, Gauteng's department of education spokesperson.

Speaking at the school in Glen Marais, Kempton Park on Tuesday, Lesufi said that he would offer support to the students by employing the services of social workers, and people to help guide the girls to come up with a policy along with the school.

"The rules will be suspended and you girls must nominate five girls who will sit with management and come up with a policy that we all respect," he said.

The girls at the school voiced their grievances to the MEC while he, school's principal Mariette van Heerden and its staff listened.

No more expulsions

The girls applauded as Lesufi announced that there would be no more expulsions over hair issues at the school going forward.

He explained that he would be back in three months to check the progress made.

Van Heerden said that the school was established in 1974 and had a strong legacy and heritage to uphold. "Discipline is order," she said.

She came under attack from learners who claimed that this was a racial incident that had taken place on more than one occasion.

Two Grade 11 learners said that the school's code of conduct was constantly being changed and that it targeted black learners, in particular, as the rules were most applicable to them.

"It's unfair what they're doing because this eventually becomes a racial thing, why are white [learners] allowed to do what they want with their hair and we can't? Our hair is hard to maintain," said one 16-year-old learner who has been at the school since grade eight.

"I am comfortable that everyone accepts that this is wrong. You can hear that those girls are in pain," Lesufi told journalists outside the school.

He said he had received numerous complaints from learners and parents at the school regarding the unfair application of the school code of conduct relating to their hair which prompted him to visit the school.

Code of conduct suspended

Both him and the school's management on Tuesday agreed to suspend the code of conduct for three months, pending a review.

A new code of conduct would be implemented once a consultative process involving parents, learners and educators was completed, he said.

"This is a human rights issue and we take allegations of racism very seriously, hence we felt it is necessary for us to come," said MEC Lesufi.

On Monday, a Facebook post went viral claiming that a group of black learners from the school claimed that they had been sent home because their hair was deemed unacceptable by Van Heerden.

Not only did the principal allegedly send the students home from school, but many of these students claimed that Van Heerden insulted their characters because of said hairstyles, calling them "idiots".

Despite several attempts to get comment from Van Heerden on Monday and Tuesday, there was still no response to queries about the incident.

Read more on:    windsor house academy  |  panyaza lesufi  |  racism

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