Unions picket to have k-word pupil expelled

2017-06-08 13:39
Members of trade unions seen picketing outside the school on Wednesday.

Members of trade unions seen picketing outside the school on Wednesday. (Nokuthula Khanyile)

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Trade unions on Wednesday staged a picket outside a Pietermaritzburg school currently embroiled in a race storm after a pupil used the K-word to refer to fellow pupils.

Members of the National Health, Education and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), the South African Communist Party (SACP) and Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) said they were dissatisfied with the school management’s handling of the alleged racist rant involving a pupil at the school.

The Pietermaritzburg high school pupil allegedly sent a WhatsApp voice note to fellow pupils in which she repeatedly referred to them as k*****s.

The pupil has since been suspended, pending an investigation into the incident. The incident has provoked national outrage, with the South African Human Rights Commission office in KwaZulu-Natal saying it was looking into the matter.

Those who picketed outside the school until noon on Wednesday held up posters calling for the “culprit” to be punished,

Wednesday’s picket was staged ahead of the anti-racism march organised by the ANC Youth League that will take place at the school tomorrow.

Cosatu KZN committee member Zimasile Giyana said the picket was directed at the management of the school for what he claimed was the poor handling of the issue.

“On Monday we visited the school to assess the situation but were told to leave.”

Giyana said they are concerned about claims that pupils were instructed to stop circulating the WhatsApp voice note.

The unions are demanding that the school expel the pupil who allegedly made the racist remarks.

During Wednesday’s protest motorists hooted in solidarity as they passed the picket with some of the drivers shouting “do away with racism”. Police in a state vehicle monitored the picket.

SACP member Mabutho Madlala said it was concerning that a pupil born in the post-apartheid era used crass language when addressing fellow pupils. “Children learn this from their parents. Schools must be inclusive and accept every child from every background,” he said.

The school’s governing body chairperson Wynand Venter said it was a normal school day but a mathematics exam that was scheduled for Wednesday had to be postponed to next Tuesday.

“We put up a notice on the school’s system alerting parents of the changes. The picket outside the school was very peaceful and didn’t cause any disruptions, it was a normal school day.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  racism at schools

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