North West education department slams presence of armed guards at Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke

2019-01-14 15:22
Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke school children. (Twitter)

Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke school children. (Twitter)

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The North West education department has criticised Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke for allowing armed security guards onto its premises on Monday following protests over alleged racism last week.

Protests broke out after a photo of black children sitting separately from white children went viral. In the photo, black children were seen sitting at a desk behind a door while white children sat at another desk.

Department of education subdistrict manager in the area Gopolang Valtyn said he was puzzled when he arrived on Monday at the school and saw armed men. He added that it was against school policy.

"No person is allowed to enter any school armed with any form of a weapon. We strongly condemn the decision by the school governing body (SGB).

"All our schools are gun-free. I have made it clear to the governing body that no one will be allowed to carry a gun in our school. We are currently negotiating with the SGB and police about the safety of the school," he said.

READ: Emergency measures in place at Schweizer-Reneke school

SGB chairperson Joseph du Plessis said security was beefed up after the school received violent threats.

"Parents feel threatened and have employed guards at the school. Some children have arrived at the school and others are at home," said Du Plessis.

Valtyn said the situation was gradually returning to normality and only a few pupils had not arrived for school.

"Teaching and learning is currently taking place inside the school. I am happy that investigations into allegations of racism have begun. We regret what happened in the school last week. We are confident that learning will continue taking place."

He added that the guards could remain on the premises but should remove their weapons. 

"If the school feels that its property and learners are at risk, then they have the right to deploy guards for protection. However, those security guards must operate under the ambit of the law. If the school is under any threat, then security will be needed."

READ: 3 lessons from that Schweizer-Reneke photo

Valtyn said the department would engage with the police, SGB and parents to ensure that learning continues.

"I am confident that parents will assist us to ensure teaching and learning resumes without interruptions," he concluded. 

On Monday News24 saw a few pupils walking around the premises while others were playing.

Read more on:    mahikeng  |  racism  |  education
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