Sadtu slams Patriots group’s motives

2017-10-01 06:00

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The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) has accused the Patriots for Equality group, which is leading a protest against the appointment of a black principal at Klipspruit West Secondary School in Eldorado Park, of being driven by racism and business interests.

The group opposes the appointment of the principal on the grounds that jobs should rather be given to people from the area.

During a meeting with Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on Thursday, the group also complained that a security company from outside the area was appointed to ensure there were no further disruptions of classes, and to protect pupils and teachers following a week of chaos at the troubled school.

The group on Friday remained unshaken, saying it was unapologetic on matters of economic empowerment, which should give priority to locals.

They also claimed to be confident that the SA Human Rights Commission, which was roped in to investigate Sadtu’s claim of racism against black teachers in the area, would not find racism as the motive for their action.

Patriots for Equality leader Anthony Williams said that his organisation stood for “equality, fairness and justice”. He said their holistic approach ranged from fighting drugs to developing the local economy.

Gauteng’s Sadtu secretary, Tseliso Ledimo, accused Patriots of Equality of being a “racist group” and said it had emerged on Thursday that the group also had “business interests in projects” at the school.

Williams argued that they believed that local people should get preference when it came to business opportunities in schools in the area.

“We have already agreed on this with MEC Lesufi, hence that complaint [about the department bringing an outside security company to protect children and teachers] was raised.

“He [Lesufi] explained why a company from outside was appointed,” Williams said.

"We won’t be bullied by Sadtu"

Lesufi’s spokesperson, Steve Mabona, said the MEC felt that a local security company may struggle to operate because of the sensitivity of the matter in the community. He conceded that, in future, the department would consider a local business.

The reason Sadtu accused the Patriots for Equality of racism was that its members had prevented the newly appointed black principal from entering the school.

The group alleged that the process of appointing the principal was flawed.

They argued that Sadtu had sought to influence the processes of appointments in schools by bringing in its own people – at the expense of “qualified coloured teachers”.

This led to instability at the school and the disruption of classes.

“We won’t allow the marginalisation of coloured people; not under our watch ... we won’t be bullied by Sadtu,” the group said.

“We’re not against a black principal, but they just don’t want to give coloured people a chance to manage schools and, for that, we’re going to fight.

"This thing is prevalent in all other coloured schools. There’s a clear project by Sadtu to ensure that schools in coloured areas are managed by black people and not coloured people,” Williams said.

Sadtu called the group’s concerns a smoke screen, arguing that its “real motive is racism”.

“An investigation by the department of education has proven that there was nothing wrong with the appointment process,” Ledimo said.

“We were there with other unions as observers and no one raised an objection ... if we’re going to allow community structures to interfere, then we’re going to have a mess,” he added.

The recent protest affected the pupils’ trial examinations and arrangements have been made for them to write their outstanding assessments this month, Mabona said.

The department also planned to send Grade 12 pupils on a study camp from tomorrow until they begin their final examinations.

Meanwhile, the department has deployed an interim management team consisting of an acting principal to run the school.

Mabona could not reveal the whereabouts of the rejected school principal “for safety reasons”.

Read more on:    sadtu  |  sahrc  |  panyaza lesufi

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