Special task team to probe GHS racism incident

2017-06-07 13:45
A special task team has been given a green light to probe GHS racism incident.

A special task team has been given a green light to probe GHS racism incident.

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A special task team has been given authority by the Department of Education to investigate the alleged racial incident at Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School (GHS).

Department spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa confirmed that the Grade 11 pupil has been suspended pending the investigation.

“We have a zero tolerance policy towards racism and we believe that it should be uprooted in its totality because it destroys people and dehumanises both victims and perpetrators,” said Mthethwa.

An online petition calling for the school to change its house names to those of female struggle stalwarts also gathered traction on Tuesday.

The petition also called on the suspended pupil to issue a public apology.

The school came under the spotlight this week when a voice recording emerged of a pupil calling her fellow pupils “k*****s” when they allegedly did not pronounce or spell her name properly.

The voice recording was shared over WhatsApp and soon went viral across all social media platforms.

The incident has since sparked outrage on social media with the hashtag #GHSdefendyourgirls trending since Monday night.

Pupils and parents from the school who contacted The Witness accused the school of handling the matter “poorly”.

One of the pupils said they were told to “stop whining because in five years none of this will matter”.

The pupils claimed that those who were “speaking out” against the racial slur on social media were “reprimanded” and the WiFi access at the school’s boarding establishment was switched off to stop them from further sharing the recording online.

When The Witness contacted the school regarding the numerous allegations, the school said they could not comment further and referred the journalist to the department.

“The principal or the governing body cannot comment beyond what has already been stated.

“As was mentioned in [the previous] statement, the School Governing Body does not tolerate racism and is, in conjunction with the KZN Department of Education, dealing with the matter,” read the statement.

The hashtag #GHSdefendyourgirls started trending on social media platforms on Monday evening with many former pupils calling for the incident to be investigated.

“Heartbroken to hear that ‘stress’ is an excuse for racism at my old school!!! #RacismAtPMBGHS #GHSDefend­YourGirls. When will things change?” wrote Abigail van Heerden on Twitter.

On Facebook, Zoey-zodumo Mthiyane said: “We [are] making such noise about this because we care and want to see change.

“And we [are] going to fight up until we see this change,” she said.

Lona Radebe echoed her sentiments on Facebook, saying: “Little things like not being allowed to speak IsiZulu, mispronunciation of our names and surnames, Zulu [department] not having proper funding for events that French or English [departments] were allocated with. Some of us are still not free from the psychological effects of that.”

Read more on:    racism  |  pietermaritzburg  |  racism at schools

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