Tempers fray at Eastwood

2020-01-28 15:20
A security guard stands at the gate of Eastwood Secondary School after 34 pupils were arrested when celebrations on the last day of classes allegedly turned violent on Tuesday.

A security guard stands at the gate of Eastwood Secondary School after 34 pupils were arrested when celebrations on the last day of classes allegedly turned violent on Tuesday. (Ian Carbutt)

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An urgent meeting to discuss violence interventions at Eastwood Secondary turned violent itself when the chair of the school’s governing body (SGB) allegedly slapped a municipal official for “showing the school a lack of respect”.

Ward 34 war room chairperson, Mzwandile Goge, claims he was heckled and slapped by the chairperson of the school’s governing body, Roy Ram, during the meeting.

Ram, a local pastor, admitted to The Witness that he had slapped Goge, but said it was only because Goge approached him with his hand bunched into a fist.

Ram said he had taken issue with Goge trying to take over the governing body’s mandate to attend to the school’s problems.

Goge called the meeting last week to inform parents about proposed strategies to curb violence at the school in his ward.

Both men have laid charges of assault against each other.

Eastwood Secondary made the headlines last year after 17-year-old Hershel Fynn was stabbed to death, allegedly by fellow pupils, outside the school.

A day before his death, another pupil was stabbed at the school.

Both incidents allegedly occurred when a “bombing” ritual — where matrics pelt each other with eggs, flour and other objects on the final day of school — got out of hand.

In the wake of the incidents, MEC for Education, Kwazi Mshengu, vowed to team up with the provincial Department of Community Safety to tackle violence in the school and Eastwood at large.

On Monday Goge said he called the meeting because he was part of engagements with the government to draw up interventions, like asking taxi drivers to pick up pupils inside the school’s premises to avoid pupils loitering after school.

It has also been proposed to suspend pupils who participate in “bombing”.

Goge said Ram began heckling him when he started to address the meeting.

“Ram began questioning why I was running the meeting and why I was trying to take over the school. He was being very disruptive.”

He claimed Ram then “lost his temper and slapped me”. He said Ram left and the meeting continued.

“The meeting was successful and parents heard about our interventions. Parents are worried about a life having been lost and the SGB should be interested in finding solutions. It’s so unfortunate.”

Goge said he was not aware Ram had laid a charge against him before speaking to The Witness, but denied having attacked or provoking Ram.

For his part, Ram accused Goge of “undermining” the SGB by calling a parents’ meeting, which is the responsibility of the SGB. “He [Goge] said the SGB was galavanting instead of finding solutions. He is not respecting us. I am very upset about what happened,” Ram said, adding that Goge will be banned from future meetings.

“We will sort out the problems as the SGB. He can’t sort things out for us. Who is he?”

KZN Department of Education spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa said the department has not received a full briefing about the incident yet, but said: “Under normal circumstances, we must handle our work with professionalism and fighting is not part of that.

“If there was fighting, it is unfortunate. We encourage peace and dialogue.”

He said the department was working hard to restore Eastwood Secondary to its best.

Police confirmed both cases of assault.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  eastwood secondary
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