1 February 2019

South Africa: Residents Reject SAHRC Findings On Appointment of Black Principal At Soweto School

Residents of Klipspruit West in Soweto have rejected a South Africa Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) report, which found that disruptive protests at Klipspruit West Secondary School were racially motivated.

The school has been in the spotlight after protests began in May 2017 after the appointment of a black principal, identified as B. Makatu, in the predominantly coloured community.

However, residents insisted that it was not a race issue, but an issue about alleged irregularities in the appointment process.

The disruptions led teachers to stay away from the school after they were prevented from entering the premises.

According to the SABC, spokesperson for the Greater Eldorado Park Business Forum Charis Pretorius said they would formally submit their objections.

The community feels the commission has failed to understand their issues. They claim that the newly-appointed principal lives next door to the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) representative who was on the interview panel.

"What the Human Rights Commission did not get is that the Department of Education failed the people of Klipspruit West when it came to the appointment and training of [the] SGB (school governing body); it failed them when it came to unions and the role the union has to play in the placement of Ms Makatu."

But the commission said oral submissions during its visit to the community actually demonstrated racial tensions. Commissioner Andrew Gaum said the situation was fuelled by racial tensions.

"Tensions and disruptions were fuelled by racial tensions. [The] commission notes that during oral submissions, some submissions closely mirrored the principles along which the machinery of apartheid operated, for example separate communities and no integration," the report said.

The commission made several recommendations, including that community-based organisations in conjunction with the City of Johannesburg should conduct an indaba in an effort to quell racial tensions. It also recommended a broader indaba by the provincial government.

The Department of Education was also directed to conduct workshops on race issues.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi welcomed the report, saying it provided him with a basis to go back to the school and try again.

The principal refused to go back to the school, citing safety concerns.

The department will now undergo a process to appoint a new candidate.

The commission also directed that the office of Premier David Makhura must, within 180 days, address issues of poor service delivery and a lack of adequate housing in collaboration with the Department of Human Settlements and the City of Johannesburg.


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