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'Racial bust-up with black teacher was long coming'

17 August 2022

The heated exchange between a black teacher and a coloured parent at a school in Ennerdale, south of Johannesburg, is a symbol of rising tensions in the community which the government failed to address three years ago.

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has accused the Gauteng government of  neglecting to implement its social cohesion recommendations made in 2019 to quell racial tensions in largely coloured communities.

The commission investigated Klipspruit West Secondary School (KWSS) in 2017 when the coloured community protested against the appointment of a black principal. The commission found that the actions of the community were racially motivated and there was nothing sinister about the appointment.

In the latest incident, a video showing a black teacher making racist comments to a coloured parent inside the classroom at Fred Norman Secondary School in Ennerdale circulated on social media this week.

The parent had come to the school to ask why her granddaughter had not been allowed to attend the teacher’s class for the past two weeks. This causes the pair to have a go at each other in front of the pupils who are standing on chairs while another coloured pupil interjects in defence of the parent.

In the clip, the teacher can be heard saying: “I don’t like coloureds. I will never wake up liking coloureds like you. You guys are rude. You guys don’t have manners. As a woman, you come and scream at me here.”

The teacher’s remarks have angered many coloured people in Ennerdale and neighbouring areas within the City of Johannesburg Region G who are calling for the permanent removal of the educator. Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi visited the school and announced that the teacher has been put under suspension.

SAHRC spokesperson Buang Jones said, however, they have noted a worrying trend of racism in Region G which includes Eldorado Park, Klipspruit, Lawley and Lenasia which are dominated by coloured populations.  

Jones said he was not surprised by the outrage caused by the Ennerdale incident.

“Region G is sitting on a ticking time bomb. The coloured people in Region G feel isolated. They are of the opinion that their areas are not provided with sufficient government services as compared to other areas. This view is fuelled by lack of social cohesion programmes in Region G. Government officials are also not visible enough in these areas,” said Jones.

In its 2019 report the commission recommended that the Gauteng department of education (GDE) conducts a survey in the community to identify and assess policy and procedures that deviate from the onstitution in respect to racism.

The SAHRC further directed the GDE and community-based structures within Region G to have programmes that advance social cohesion.

According to the SAHRC, most of the recommendations contained in the KWSS report have not been implemented.

“It is the duty of every government to listen to concerns from citizens and find ways to address raised concerns. If our government had implemented most of the recommendations in the KWSS report, surely most of the challenges we see in Region G would have been addressed by now.

“Region G must have endless programmes that promote social tolerance and unity,” said Jones.

Lesufi called for calm and engaged with a group of parents that were picketing outside.

They told Lesufi about many issues affecting the school. Raised concerns included school bullying, substance abuse and racism accusations.

“This is not the first time this teacher and her colleagues have told our children that they don’t like coloureds. She is known for inciting racial intolerance. Luckily this time she was caught on camera boldly insulting our community. We are not racists but we demand a public apology from her, and for her to be fired from this school,” said Ennerdale resident John Delange.

Lesufi told the group that the department will look into their concerns, including allegations of racism.

The SAHRC has also launched its own investigation into the incident.

The Gauteng education department could not be reached for comment.

Source: Sowetan Live

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