'We cannot risk lives:' teacher's union heads to court to stop schools opening

26 May 2020 - 13:00 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
The union wants the safety of pupils and teachers guaranteed before classes resume. Stock photo.
The union wants the safety of pupils and teachers guaranteed before classes resume. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/undrey

The Educators Union of South Africa (Eusa) is planning to approach the courts on Friday for an interdict against the government's plan to partially open schools on June 1.

Union spokesperson Kabelo Mahlobogwane likened sending children back to school in winter to "genocide" without the necessary safety precautions in place.

"Sending learners to school during winter, when infections will be increasing, is similar to committing a genocide," Mahlobogwane told TimesLIVE.

He said the union would file an application against basic education minister Angie Motshekga and the department of education at the South Gauteng high court.

"It cannot be that we risk people's lives to test waters. The minister should be prioritising lives over the curriculum," said Mahlobogwane.

The union proposed that the department wait until September, when the weather improved, before reopening schools.

"We also suggest the department takes all matriculants to a camp, away from everyone."

Mahlobogwane said the union was not opposed to schools being opened, but they wanted the education department to guarantee the safety of teachers and pupils.

"When we signed up to be teachers, we did not sign up to endanger our lives. How do you send children to face an invisible enemy?

"If anyone is infected, we will sue her [Motshekga] in her personal capacity," said Mahlobogwane.

He said the court challenge may be joined by other organisations.


subscribe