‘Boozing’ at school

2018-09-26 15:45
The entrance to Northlands Primary School captured through Google Maps.

The entrance to Northlands Primary School captured through Google Maps.

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On weekdays it’s a school, but come the weekend Northlands Primary turns into a “shebeen”, and fed-up Northdale residents are taking their complaints to the Education Department.

Video footage taken in the school’s staff room last Friday evening shows a group of men drinking alcohol.

The department says alcohol on the premises is strictly forbidden. The school says the event was a private function but was not aware of any alcohol being consumed.

Sources told The Witness that the six men videoed having drinks on Friday night had their own key to the staff room and had bypassed school security and staff.

Two bottles of hard liquor can be seen in footage and in photographs. One insider said that school cleaners clear alcohol bottles from the staff room on Monday mornings.

This is another blow to the school, which sources claim is suffering frequent staff stay-aways due to a poor work atmosphere.

Venolin Govender, who chairs the Ward 31 war room and who confronted the group on Friday night, said he saw a group of men “swearing, smoking, and drinking” inside the school premises.

“They told me they were there to have a social event. They said they were not compelled to say who gave them permission to use the staff room.”

Govender, who has had several meetings with the school over the years for various problems, said: “There are constant complaints but management is never willing to listen.”

The school’s governing body (SGB) chairperson, Kevin David, on Tuesday confirmed the school had given permission for the gathering, but criticised “mischief makers” who were leaking information to the press.

After being shown some of the footage, David said it was an “after-hours private event” held by people not affiliated with the school. He said the school, which is considered a “community service centre”, was sometimes used for private events.

He could not comment on claims that the staff room was regularly used as a drinking hole as he was unaware that that was happening in the first place.

“The person who recorded this did so without permission, and they were trespassing and were acting out of their jurisdiction by giving it to the press. This will create undue problems,” he said.

David added that The Witness’ story last week about staff stay-aways was “fake news”, and that it had caused unnecessary demoralisation among staff.

He encouraged people to set up a meeting with the school to air problems, saying the SGB had an open door policy.

“If there’s issues at the school, I am not here to deny it or here to cover up; I’m here to sort the issues out. These issues [shouldn’t] come via the press.

“[I also] receive anonymous messages and phone calls on certain issues about educators and the principal. Unfortunately these mischief makers do not ... approach the SGB so we cannot sort it out. I don’t deal with faceless people.”

KZN Education Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said the department would launch a thorough investigation into the matter. He confirmed alcohol was not allowed on public school premises under any circumstance.

Rachel Soobiah, a PR councillor who lives near the school, said a march was being planned to hand over a memorandum to the Education Department detailing the public’s grievances with the school.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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