'Yay, I'm so grateful!': Back to school for Schweizer-Reneke teacher Elana Barkhuizen

24 January 2019 - 12:15 By nico gous
Suspended Schweizer-Reneke teacher Elana Barkhuizen was reinstated by the Johannesburg Labour Court on January 24 2019.
Suspended Schweizer-Reneke teacher Elana Barkhuizen was reinstated by the Johannesburg Labour Court on January 24 2019.
Image: Alon Skuy

"It is an incredible feeling. Justice has a great impact. I’m grateful and happy. It is just too many emotions at this stage," Elana Barkhuizen said on Thursday outside the labour court in Johannesburg.

She was speaking to TimesLIVE just after winning her challenge against her suspension by the North West education department, amid an investigation into alleged racial segregation at Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke. Barkhuizen has denied any impropriety.

"I just want to jump up in my chair and say, 'Yay'," she said.

Barkhuizen said she has been receiving messages from learners who want her to return to class.

"Now I can go and say hi to everyone and give them a hug."

The court ruled Barkhuizen may return to the school tomorrow, after finding her suspension was unlawful on the grounds that due process had not been followed. A key aspect of the challenge was that she is employed by the school governing body, and not the department of education which therefore was not in a position to suspend her.

Solidarity, the trade union that represented Barkhuizen, said: "We will have discussions with the governing body this afternoon about when she will be back at work." 

The case was swiftly dealt with by the labour court on Thursday.

Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann said the provincial education MEC had initially indicated that government would oppose the case, but withdrew on Wednesday evening.

The North West education department are not commenting at this stage. “We only got the information from you (the media),” spokesman Freddy Sepeng said.

The Democratic Alliance’s North West premier candidate Joe McGluwa said in a statement: “It has been a painful and difficult two weeks for all parties involved, most especially for the children affected, who have had to endure such trauma, and for Elana Barkhuizen.”

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