Edenvale school withdraws immigration letter

Johannesburg - During a week of renewed xenophobic sentiment in Gauteng, a letter from Eastleigh Primary School telling parents to ensure their immigration documents were in order caused controversy as it circulated on social media.

GroundUp reports that the letter, later withdrawn, warned that any children arriving at school on February 27 without verified documents would be handed to police.

Many initially believed the letter was a hoax, including Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba. He tweeted a picture of the letter over which someone had written, ‘FAKE-NEWS!!’ on February 24.

Gigaba was responding to urgent requests for information on the letter, and distanced the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) from the matter.

However, the letter was authentic. On Friday evening, the school, in Edenvale, posted a statement on its Facebook account withdrawing the letter at the request of the Gauteng Department of Education.

The school wrote that the letter should not have been distributed as it “does not portray the ethos and transformation at the school”.

The following day, school governing body chairperson Graeme Stratton posted a longer statement apologising unreservedly for the letter. The school would deal with immigration issues in a compassionate and caring way in future.

Eastleigh’s Facebook page attracted considerable criticism in the comments.

DHA spokesperson Thabo Mokgola said on Friday that officials visited Eastleigh Primary School. The visit was at Eastleigh’s request, in line with DHA policy.

At the initial meeting, DHA officials reportedly stated that proper documentation of enrolled pupils was the principal’s responsibility. Failure to do so would result in the principal being fined R25 000 per undocumented child.

However, Mokgola could not confirm whether this was in fact discussed at the meeting. He had no comment about whether it was department policy to fine principals over undocumented pupils.

On Friday, social movement Equal Education condemned Eastleigh’s letter. It cited section 29 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to basic education to all persons in South Africa, regardless of their immigration status.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Authorities should bring in the army already
11% - 2089 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
47% - 8829 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
38% - 7093 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
4% - 695 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.