SAHRC CONCERNED AT THE RE-APPOINTMENT OF FREE STATE TEACHER IMPLICATED IN RACISM
24 July 2015
The South African Human Rights Commission expresses its concern arising from media reports that the former Wilgehof Primary School teacher who was found guilty of racism has again been employed by the Department of Education, two-years after he was found guilty of serious misconduct by the Department.
Following on a complaint about Mr Mac Kay, the SAHRC found in 2013 that the conduct of the Free State teacher, amounted to racism and hate speech as defined in the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA).
It was alleged that Mr Mac Kay had displayed a full sized apartheid era South African flag in front of his classroom since May 2012, and that he had a poster in the class depicting black people as having monkey-like noses and primate brains who could only make confusing noises. He also referred to black children using the racially offensive ‘K’-epithet in class.
Mr Mac Kay was also accused of walking around the class room with a mirror which he would place in front of a black child’s face and would ask the child “what do you see?” When the black child reportedly said, “I do not know, sir,” the teacher would respond by saying “a baboon... you see a baboon!”
The SAHRC found, that Mr Mac Kay’s comments amounted to hate speech and constituted a clear violation of both the right to equality and the right to human dignity of the learners. In addition the Commission found that his conduct, which included the administration of corporal punishment, the display of racist material created a learning environment that was harmful, and constituted a violation of both the right to education and the rights of the child.
The Commission notes that, despite its findings and recommendations to the Department and to the South African Council of Educators, Mr Mac Kay has been permitted to continue teaching children pending the determination of his appeal.
In its recommendations the Commission had called on:
• The Free State Department of Basic Education to address the need for a disciplinary process to be followed in terms of Employment of Educators Act 76 of 1998. Further, that the Department approach the court to declare Mr Mac Kay in terms of Part B of the National Child Protection Register (NCPR) as a person unsuitable to work with children, in terms of the Children’s Act, 38 of 2005 (as amended) or alternatively undergo intensive race sensitization; tolerance and anger management rehabilitation.
• In addition the Department was requested to probe the conduct of the School Principal and review his competence to lead the school and other allegations of impropriety and misappropriation of school funds
• Finally the Department was requested to provide reports to the Commission about the measures it would put in place to combat racism in all public schools in the province
It is unfortunate that not all of the recommendations by the Commission have been addressed by the Department. In particular, the Commission awaits progress reports from the Department about measures it has implemented to combat racism across all public schools in the Free State.
The Commission plans to meet with the School Governing Body of the school and the Department to secure a full response to its recommendations.
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Issued by the SA Human Rights Commission