OVERVIEW: Schweizer-Reneke teacher's suspension declared unlawful, judge orders her return to work

2019-01-24 10:30

The suspension of Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke teacher Elana Barkhuizen has been declared unlawful in the Labour Court in Johannesburg and it has been ruled that she may return to work.

Schweizer-Reneke teacher Elana Barkhuizen

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Last Updated at 13:20
24 Jan 11:26

Barkhuizen said justice has been served and she is expecting a great reception when she arrives at the school. The court ordered that she return to work from Friday. She said she misses the community of Schweizer-Reneke and she is glad she has been reinstated.

24 Jan 11:24

24 Jan 11:24

Speaking after Judge Connie Prinsloo delivered her judgment, Barkhuizen said she holds no grudge against the school governing body and the department. She said she can't wait to see her children.

24 Jan 11:03

24 Jan 10:49

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24 Jan 10:42

Barkhuizen claims in three other pictures that were also taken, they showed no separation. By 11:00, Lehari announced her suspension. 

Lehari in his filing affidavit said he was conveying what was said by the school governing body - to suspend Barkhuizen. 

24 Jan 10:40

The court hears that Barkhuizen created a WhatsApp group in November 2018 to communicate with parents. On January 9, Barkhuizen was supervising a class of Grade R learners. She took the pictures and distributed it to the WhatsApp group. 

A parent who saw the images called Barkhuizen, furious. Barkhuizen explained to the parent that there was no separation done according to race. Barkhuizen claims she had no role to play in the separation of the kids, because they were not in her classroom. 

24 Jan 10:30

It is argued that Barkhuizen was employed by the school governing body, not by the department in 2017, as a Grade R teacher. It's mentioned that the school uses interpreters for learners struggling with Afrikaans.

24 Jan 10:27

24 Jan 10:26

24 Jan 10:26

Barkhuizen's lawyer says the MEC (Lehari) can't interfere in matters which are at the discretion of the school's governing body. However, none of the respondents have filed opposing papers. 

Judge Prinsloo says she is not prepared to entertain some of the demands of the applicant's lawyers.

24 Jan 10:23

24 Jan 10:23

Barkhuizen's lawyer said he also received an unsigned affidavit. The consented order was entered in by applicant, first respondent, and second respondent. Relief is sought against the first and second respondent.

24 Jan 10:21

24 Jan 10:21

Lawyers representing the Department of Education and the school are not in court. Meanwhile, Barkhuizen's lawyer said that the matter was opposed by the department and North West education MEC Sello Lehari. The lawyer said he received the notice to withdraw by yesterday.

24 Jan 10:20

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24 Jan 10:17

24 Jan 10:17

Suspended Schweizer-Reneke teacher heads to the Labour Court

The suspension of Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke teacher Elana Barkhuizen is expected to take centre stage in the Labour Court in Johannesburg on Thursday when it hears an urgent application she lodged.

The school dominated headlines two weeks ago when a photograph of Grade R pupils went viral on social media. It showed black pupils sitting separately from white pupils.

Barkhuizen was then suspended, pending an investigation. 

However, with the assistance of trade union Solidarity, she filed court papers alleging that her suspension was factually flawed.

In the court papers, she argued that she should not have been suspended because she was not the teacher who separated the pupils, adding that she was never given an opportunity to correct the misinformation.  

24 Jan 10:17


'I detest racism' - Barkhuizen gives her version of what happened at Schweizer-Reneke school

Schweizer-Reneke primary school teacher Elana Barkhuizen maintains that her suspension is factually flawed on a number of grounds.

In court papers which News24 has seen, Barkhuizen says she should not have been suspended as she was not the teacher who allegedly separated black learners from their white classmates, and that she was never given an opportunity to correct the misinformation. 

The teacher also contends that she was not informed of the intention to suspend her, and she was not provided with reasons for the suspension. 

24 Jan 10:17


Sadtu demands answers following suspension of Schweizer-Reneke teacher at centre of racism row 

The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) in the North West is demanding answers from the provincial department on why a teacher, who allegedly captured and shared a controversial image taken at Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke in the province, was suspended.

Provincial chairperson Mxolisi Bomvana said Sadtu was alerted on Friday about Elana Barkhuizen's suspension from the school.

Action was taken against the teacher after an image surfaced on social media, showing a group of black children sitting at a separate table from their white classmates.

"What we have since discovered is that the teacher who allegedly separated the children according to their race is still working in the school. We want answers why the teacher is still in school," he said. 

24 Jan 10:17


DA youth leader sowed racial division in Schweizer-Reneke furore, Solidarity charges 

DA federal youth leader, Luyolo Mphithi, should formally apologise to teacher Elana Barkhuizen and pupils whose "identities he exposed" in the apparent Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke race furore that got South Africans talking this week, trade union Solidarity demanded.

The trade union said Mphithi "sowed racial division by declaring that a photograph [showing black pupils sitting separately from their white classmates] a clear-cut case of racism" at the school.

In a letter written to DA leader Mmusi Maimane on Tuesday, Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann said Mphithi had tweeted a photo of the Grade R classroom – which later went viral – "which implied that the school segregated the children based on race, using nothing other than a photo of a single moment in the classroom". 

24 Jan 10:17


Lesufi: 'Solidarity must back off! Race politics at schools is over' 

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says the time for race politics, particularly in schools, has passed. 

Speaking at the opening of Centurion Primary School on Wednesday, Lesufi touched on the Schweizer-Reneke primary school controversy, after a photo emerged showing black children sitting at a desk, separate from their white counterparts. 

Lesufi said much time had been spent focusing on other "silly things" instead of whether there were enough proper qualified teachers in classrooms.  

24 Jan 10:17


Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke: Principal, teacher facing suspension amid probe - source 

Another teacher and the principal at the Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke in the North West are reportedly also facing suspension.

The two were allegedly implicated after a photograph showing four black Grade R children sitting at a separate table from white children went viral on social media.

A source in the provincial Department of Education told News24 that the school principal and the teacher who allegedly separated the children based on their race would be suspended soon.

The source said the latest development was a result of preliminary investigations. 

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