Racial tension between the ‘Coloured’ community of Klipspruit and ‘African’ teachers sparked a huge debate around blackness. The source of the tension was the appointment of a new principal at Klipspruit West High. Soon the tensions spread to Eldorado Park, leading to the withdrawal by the teacher’s union, SADTU, of its members from work.
Calm was finally restored at Klipspruit-West High after allegations of racial discrimination in key appointments at the school disrupted learning. But on the 26th of September 2017, the Department of Education, the Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) and other stakeholders reached an agreement that all educators at the school, as well as those who participated in a sympathy strike at about 30 schools in Eldorado Park, will return to their posts.
The agreement also included the appointment of an acting principal. Parents and learners welcomed the decision as it will now allow for the normal functioning of the school. Once again they denied with harshest terms that the issue at the school was about race.
It has been alleged that they have rejected the appointment of a black female principal because they only want to be taught or led by Coloured people.
“That’s nonsense. It’s a hogwash with an extreme void of truth. We questioned the flawed process [and it] was not in line with the South African Schools Act. It says in an event of an appointment of an educator or the principal, parents must chair the interview panel. In this case, that didn’t happen and we asked why. This has never been about race. We want competent people to teach our children irrespective of colour,” said Anthony Williams speaking on behalf of the parents.
Kenneth Vickerman from the National Associations of the School Governing Bodies (NASGB) explained the school’s recruitment process further: ” Two parents must chair the interview, one must tabulate the score. An official must act as the resource person while two different union members are observers.”
SADTU, however, disputes that the appointment process of the principal was flawed. It says that everything was aboveboard and that this was even independently verified. Now they are waiting for the Education Minister to rule on the matter. “Let me emphasise that not every Coloured person in that community is buying this racism story. This is not the general view of the Klipspruit and Eldorado Park community but a few individuals that have business interests at the school. They are afraid if a different person is to be appointed, they won’t have their way to tenders and other benefits at the school,” said Thabiso Ledimo, Provincial Secretary of SADTU.
Responding to the racism allegation, the Department said that they have referred the matter to the Human Rights Commission for investigation. As the teachers are returning to classrooms, security has also been beefed up. “Security personnel have been deployed to the school for access control. The police has assured [us of] their visibility at the school.”
In conclusion, MEC Panyaza Lesufi said: “We are happy that there is a progress in our efforts to bring normality to the school. We are hopeful that this intervention will yield positive results and we will continue to monitor the situation.”