Disgruntled community members in Klipspruit West, Eldorado Park, south of Johannesburg, say coloured pupils are being degraded by black teachers at the Klipspruit West Secondary School.
The issue of race seems to be at the centre of the unhappiness among locals in the area.
“Many of the children drop out of the school and are being told by black teachers that they are coloured bastards,” Anthony Williams from Patriots of Equality said.
Patriots of Equality is a group representing coloured teachers in Eldorado Park.
Williams said a teacher at school had accused coloured girls of being on drugs and had said that they would be pregnant soon.
“This is what is going on at the school and no one is talking about it. Now they want us as a community to clap hands while there is a very clear suppression of who we are and what we have done,” Williams said.
On Thursday morning, angry residents torched a Putco bus and blocked the K43 Highway with burning tyres and rocks.
Two schools in the area were also shut down.
This comes after a black principal was appointed at the Klipspruit West Secondary School.
‘Employment is based on merit’
According to Williams, the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) has an operation called “Vat alles” [Take everything], which prevented coloured people from filling teaching positions.
“‘Vat alles’ is the reason why coloured people won’t assume principal and deputy principal positions. Their operation says that every position in coloured communities will be occupied by black teachers,” he said.
He said that it was at the heart of their grievances, adding that it was a racist project.
Sadtu has rejected the claims.
“Sadtu doesn’t employ any teachers. We sit in on the short-listing process with other unions and check that the SGB is following all the procedures. We have no actual say in the process,” general secretary Mugwena Maluleke told News24.
Maluleke said the union acted as a watchdog to ensure that no one was disadvantaged.
“It would be wrong for employment to be based on race. It is based on merit. The law allows anyone to apply for a job at any school, and therefore people can work anywhere without being barred,” Maluleke said.
Williams said they had also put a plan into place to make sure that all matriculants write their preliminary exams.
“We would be very foolish and we would be ignorant not to think about the fact that matriculants are on the verge of writing their prelims. We got plans that we have designed, we just need to implement them and make it available to all the matriculants,” he said.
‘He must shut his mouth’
However, some residents felt that not everyone in the area was supporting the protests.
“I think there was a lack of communication, so you can’t really say that 100% of the community is supporting what is going on. Until we got facts and we know what is going on, we can’t say we are for it or against it,” William Wilson said.
Wilson said the community was used as a scapegoat to protest and disrupt.
His comments left some community members furious. Some went as far as saying: “Hy verkoop ons aan die media [He is selling us to the media.]”
Others were heard saying: “Hoekom praat hy vir ons almal, hy moet sy bek hou [Why is he talking on behalf of the community, he must shut his mouth.]”
Earlier on Thursday morning, Craig Samson said the disruptions made him concerned about the safety of his two daughters at the local crèche.
“My only problem is that I have two kids that I took to crèche this morning and my concern is how they are going to get home. If this unrest continues, I am sitting with a big problem on my hands,” Samson said.
Samson also attended Klipspruit Secondary School and matriculated in 2000.
By:Iavan Pijoos and Nation Nyoka/ Network24