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Probe backs up allegations of racism, nepotism at Laerskool Theresapark

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi vows to act

25 August 2021 - 16:38 By shonisani tshikalange
Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi visited the principal of Laerskool Theresapark at home after she was chased from the school. File photo.
Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi visited the principal of Laerskool Theresapark at home after she was chased from the school. File photo.
Image: Gauteng education department

An investigation has corroborated allegations of racism and nepotism at Laerskool Theresapark in Tshwane.

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has presented a report on the school that confirmed parents’ allegations of racism, maladministration and financial mismanagement against staff members and some members of the previous and existing school governing body (SGB).

Education acting chief director of risk and compliance William Makgabo confirmed that the findings contained evidence of corrupt financial conduct by a number of staff and some SGB members.

The report follows the circulation of a video on social media in May in which school  principal Dorothy Mabaso was violently thrown out of her office, allegedly by a group of parents. She was accused of verbally abusing teachers and bankrupting the school.

The incident prompted Lesufi to appoint an independent investigation into  allegations levelled against management at the school.

The report revealed that:

  • The school had two bank accounts and procurement deals were closely linked to certain staff.
  • Some SGB members were found to be in conflict of interest by procuring from service providers who were linked to them or their family members.
  • The principal allegedly discriminated against black teachers, viewing them as less educated than their white colleagues and lacking adequate management skills to lead ethically.
  • White educators were racist towards black children and refused to teach them.
  • Some educators were also reported to have missed payments on their children’s fees at the school.

Department spokesperson Steve Mabona said it was recommended that the department  pursue legal action and criminal cases against those implicated in illegal procurement processes, including family members and close friends of staff and SGB members.

“To address issues of discrimination and related misconduct, a transformation strategy was also recommended to deal with racism within the school staff and also redirect the SGB focus towards their core responsibilities at the school,” he said.

Mabona said after the report was presented, Lesufi acknowledged each finding and promised parents that decisive action would follow.

“There’s an understanding that there were a lot of wrong things that were happening at the school,” said Lesufi.

“First is the issue of governance, which signifies serious limitations and gaps. Second is the issue of management ... there are things that are completely unacceptable. Third is the leadership of the school through the principal. There are matters that need our immediate attention. Last, which is something that I don’t take kindly to, is matters of racism and discrimination against learners.”

Lesufi vowed to act.

“Those are four things that we need to respond to and we will attend to them. I want to assure you that we can’t request people to investigate or assist us to find wrong things and leave them unattended.

“As soon as the people who are implicated are given an opportunity to respond to these findings, we will act and update everyone accordingly.”