Panyaza will pay for tweeting pic of children – FF Plus

2016-07-03 19:18
FILE: Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi. Picture: Cornel van Heerden

FILE: Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi. Picture: Cornel van Heerden

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Johannesburg – Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi would pay for posting a picture of nursery school children on his Twitter account, the FF Plus said on Sunday.

“He will go to jail or face a very high fine,” said FF Plus Gauteng leader, Anton Alberts. “That will be fitting and also send a strong message [not] to put children in harms’ way.”

The party intended laying a charge of transgressing the Children’s Act against Lesufi at the Centurion police station on Monday.

This followed Lesufi’s tweet of a photograph of nursery school children, in which a black girl appeared to have been separated from white children.

The photograph was circulated online. Lesufi visited the Centurion nursery school on June 23 and ordered his department to investigate the matter.

His spokesperson, Oupa Bodibe, said the department would defend the case and that Lesufi had done nothing illegal.

A ‘normal problem’

The 19-month-old baby’s mother posted the picture on Facebook. It showed the girl sitting alone, while white children sat at another table.

“My beautiful 19-month-year old is made to sit on a table by herself whilst the rest of her class sits cosy on the table next to her, indulging on delectable spread and my poor child sits with just her lunch tin [sic],” the mother wrote at the time.

Alberts said Lesufi had not handled the situation correctly and was trying to create the narrative on Twitter along the lines of, “Hey! I’m the hero and I am going to show this school they are wrong”.

He said the party’s action was motivated both by a concern for the safety of children and by politics. “Politically and criminally he has transgressed,” Alberts said.

Lesufi was polarising a volatile, racially-charged environment to get more votes. This was “race-baiting", he said.

“He is taking a situation that is a normal problem and turning it into a racial situation.”

Open letter

Alberts said Lesufi had repeatedly ignored the party’s requests to discuss other education-related issues. He had allowed the situation to escalate.

By posting the photograph of the children, Lesufi had placed the children in danger because someone could go to the crèche and do something “crazy”.

An investigation into what happened at the crèche still needed to take place but Lesufi had erred in not giving the crèche the opportunity to explain itself.

Last week, the school’s principal posted an open letter on the website. She wrote that her “protected, privileged white South African life” had changed radically.

She said she shared her life with many black people she cared for financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. “They are like all my white friends: my loved ones,” she wrote.

The girl in the photo and another child were the only black children in her school.

“Black people are not interested to have their children being taught in Afrikaans. Have I ever turned away black children? Never!”

Racism in your heart

She and the child’s mother were friends. After the photograph was published, the “friendship turned into racism”. Her life and her family’s lives had been threatened, as had her school’s existence.

“I receive racist calls threatening to set my school alight and to come and sort me out. I receive emails calling me inhumane, a racist and an embarrassment to Christians!”

She said the girl in question had never been treated differently to any of the others in her class.

“When there is racism in your heart you will see it in everything. The opposite makes you send a photo without thinking or looking because you believe there is a relationship.”

Addressing the mother directly, the principal said she was “sorry about your pain; sorry about the racism in your heart. We are missing [your daughter]”.

Read more on:    ff plus  |  panyaza lesufi  |  education

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