South Africa: Principal Removed After Parents Accuse Him of Misconduct

"He signs cheques and buys what he likes without consulting SGB members"

A principal at a Khayelitsha school was removed on Friday after protests by parents.

They accuse him of signing cheques and buying what he likes without consulting SGB members.

He will report to the district office pending the outcome of the department's investigation.

The provincial department has promised to meet with parents and the SGB next week to discuss the matter.

The principal of Luleka Primary School in Khayelitsha was relieved of his duties on Friday, pending an investigation into his alleged misconduct. This follows a protest by parents and other school governing body (SGB) members on Thursday, demanding that principal Thobile Mthoba be removed.

Parents who gathered outside the school on Friday again said they wanted to make sure that Mthoba did not return.

Kerry Mauchline, spokesperson for the Western Cape education minister Debbie Schäfer, said Mthoba would be reporting to the district office temporarily while the matter is being investigated.

The battle between Mthoba and Luleka parents started back in 2011. Parents claim that he has been refusing to work with SGB members, while making decisions about who to hire or fire, and allocating school funds without proper consultation.

In 2016, GroundUp reported on an incident where teachers were attacked by parents for refusing to leave the school premises. Among their complaints was Mthoba's conduct.

SGB chairperson Mxoliseni Zwayi said they reported issues to the department but nothing was done. "Every year since 2011 we send emails to the department asking them to remove Mthoba. Their response is always that they will investigate the matter but they keep quiet after that," he said.

On Friday, parent Lindeka Gwele said they were furious Mthoba has been refusing to extend class times. This led to the protest this week, she said.

Gwele said learners at Luleka were only attending school once a week, while surrounding schools offered classes for up to three times a week. "Our fear is that if the country gets to the third wave of Covid-19, our children will again be way behind the syllabus," she said.

Community leader Lonwabo Mqina said, "Some of Mthoba's decisions affects the school funds. He signs cheques and buys what he likes without consulting SGB members. Next thing he will tell parents that school funds are finished."

Mauchline said Schäfer agreed that a meeting between the protesters, Chief Director of Districts Alan Meyer, and the district director, will take place next week.

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