Principal suspended after violent protests

2018-05-23 06:02

THE principal of a high school in Mphophomeni, which has been shut following ongoing protests, has allegedly been suspended by the Education Eepartment.

The principal of Umthombo High School was apparently suspended on Friday following violent protest action that erupted at the school last week.

According to a statement by the School Governing Body (SGB), the principal has been placed on three months suspension and faces a disciplinary hearing.

This followed protests at the school last week, during which pupils and parents set tyres alight, broke windows, doors and furniture, and damaged vehicles.

At one point, angry pupils and parents locked four officials from the Education Department in an office at the school.

Police were called to the school yesterday and fired rubber bullets to disperse the pupils. No one was arrested during the protest.

There has been little or no teaching and learning for the past three weeks at the school.

SGB deputy secretary Mbali Ngubane said the principal has been fingered by the department for allegedly inciting parents and pupils using unlawful procedure.

Ngubane told The Witness (Echo’s sister paper) that the allegations levelled against the principal were a false “tactic” by the department to shy away from their commitments to resolve issues faced by the school.

She said some teachers who are siding with the principal had also resolved to abandon classes this week.

“Teachers have taken a decision to stay away this week. We are concerned that all these interruptions will have a negative impact on learning, especially of matric studies.

“It’s unknown where these allegations are coming from because he had nothing to do with the protests. He was not responsible for anything that happened; he could not stop the parents and pupils from fighting for what they deserve.”

KZN Education spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa declined to comment on the principal’s suspension, saying that it was an internal issue.

“Contractual issues are strictly between an employer and employee. We do not discuss internal disputes with the media until all investigations have been completed,” said Mthethwa.

Attempts to contact the principal this week were unsuccessful.

A Grade 11 pupil confirmed that no teaching took place at the school yesterday. “A lot of the pupils are absent. We are all concerned because we have the mid-year examinations coming up,” said the pupil.

The pupils and teachers are demanding that the school’s quintile ranking be lowered from four to two. They told The Witness that the current ranking had dire consequences for the school’s funding.

Ngubane said the school was also in a rundown state and most of the classes did not have proper furniture.

Mthethwa said the KZN Education Department has plans to improve infrastructure at schools throughout the province.

“If the school makes the necessary arrangements it will be considered for refurbishments.”

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