A Westville Girls High School teacher who resigned amidst a racism scandal is accused of calling black people the k-word.
The English teacher‚ Danielle de Bruyn‚ has rebuffed attempts to contact her on Tuesday – a day after she tendered her resignation. The school issued a statement which condemned her racist remarks‚ insisting that her “loss of control and bigoted view” was not congruent with the ethos of the school.
De Bruyn is understood to have become embroiled in a heated debate with her English class over drawing similarities between the set book‚ Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird‚ with the South African political landscape and farm killings.
A relative of one of the pupil’s who was in the class at the time of the outburst‚ who spoke to TimesLIVE on condition of anonymity‚ said that De Bruyn was alleged to have “gone off on a tangent” while discussing the set book.
“My sister told me they were discussing the book and she went off on a tangent trying to draw comparisons in farm killings and the content of the book.
“She was saying that there was reverse racism now because farmers were responsible for putting food on the table and now they were being subjected to attacks. She went on to say that blacks would never have been able to do half the things in the country if it wasn’t for white people‚” she said.
“She was speaking to the black girls in the class when she called them ‘these k****rs’. This happened in front of a full class and she didn’t stop. She went crazy‚” she added. “After she apologised the HOD came and told the girls that it had taken a lot to humble herself in front of them and they should move on.”
The relative said that her family was considering registering a criminal case of crimen injuria.
Parent and deputy chair of the Gender Commission Mfanozelwe Shozi said that his daughter told him that a discussion on land and race had gotten De Bruyn riled up.
“The teacher said that Zimbabwe was an amazing country when it was called Rhodesia under the white regime and that when it was taken by Africans it became a basket case‚” he said.
“She said that South Africa would have the same fate if expropriation of land without compensation was pursued…she said if South African land was returned to African people it would end up like Zimbabwe‚” he added.
He said the teacher had used the k-word‚ insisting that Africans could not run the country properly.
“She even said that in her home her parents are scared and have guns under their beds. She said that if she could meet Julius Malema she would shoot him. They [the learners] tried to stop her and she continued.
“I welcome her resignation but my worry is that these kinds of comments in a mixed classroom are divisive. Now that the criminal element has left the school‚ we can return to the business of study while the management takes action.”
In a letter issued by the school on Tuesday‚ principal Catherine Raw outlined the scope of the school’s probe which was initiated last week.
“I am sad and troubled to let you know that one of our staff stepped out of her role of teacher and used her position of parent in the classroom to make racist remarks and share her biased opinion of the South African political situation.
“By doing this‚ not only did she break the law and violate the code of the school‚ but she also created a hurtful and unsafe environment for the learners in her class‚” Raw wrote.
She said that the school was made aware of the incident on Thursday last week‚ and by Friday morning had initiated its own internal investigation.
“The teacher requested an opportunity to apologise to the class. It was pointed out to her that this did not alter the investigation process in place.”
The allegations were put to De Bruyn by TimesLIVE via Facebook Messenger. The message was read and the reporter was blocked.
KZN Education Department spokesman Kwazi Mthethwa said the matter would be dealt with.
“We condemn racism and all schools are expected to uphold the values and principles enshrined in the Constitution. We are not going to waste any time‚ we will deal with this right away‚” he said.
“The MEC for Education in KwaZulu-Natal‚ Mthandeni Dlungwane‚ hates racism with a passion and in fact he’s addicted to non-racialism. He is not going to allow pupils to be reminded of apartheid. We will make contact with this school urgently.”