Hoërskool Jan Viljoen parents: 'Let's stop fighting against ourselves'
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi hears from parents of all racial groups on Sunday afternoon
Hoërskool Jan Viljoen parents in the west of Johannesburg on Sunday said they wanted equal treatment for all pupils and equal diversity representatives at the school.
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi visited the school for a parents' meeting, which was rescheduled after it didn't proceed on Thursday due to rain.
Lesufi said external investigations had already begun into allegations at the school which included racism. "The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) will investigate everyone. There is an independent body who is going to investigate everyone and if they say act, I will act decisively," Lesufi said.
He said during his engagements with teachers, they indicated difficulties that confronted them almost every day.
I went ahead to meet with our learners. It was a difficult exercise, it was a painful exercise. It was an exercise that till today I regret but still appreciate.Panyaza Lesufi
"They also felt they need assistance and need support to manage diversity and the new environment they are teaching in," he said.
"What they emphasise is that the school is a functional school that is struggling to manage diversity and that is going through a transformational process."
He said the school had undertaken to do everything it could to confront racism.
Lesufi said the teacher population in the school was not representative of the racial diversity and said it would be rectified.
"I went ahead to meet with our learners. It was a difficult exercise, it was a painful exercise. It was an exercise that till today I regret but still appreciate.
"I want to declare to the management that this school belongs to all of us, all of us must feel safe. Our purpose is to ensure that we deliver quality education and save our children from the trauma of racism. We will never tolerate any form of racism, regardless of where it comes from."
Lesufi said he was saddened after what happened on Thursday between parents.
LISTEN | Hoërskool Jan Viljoen parents clash as some black parents refused entry to parents' meeting
"I was sad that in the same meeting, parents did exactly what children did. I am urging you as parents to embrace a truly non racial SA," he said.
"I felt we came to the school to deal with issues of racism only to be confronted with serious allegations of sexual misconduct."
He said pupils reported that there is a staff member who has been inviting pupils to his house and asking pupils the colour of their underwear.
"When these allegations were presented to us, I called the SGB and the principal and agreed that he must not step his feet until he is cleared."
On Sunday, parents spoke and presented their concern to Lesufi. While some were booed, others received cheers and applause.
Tshepo Tima, a parent of a 17-year-old grade 12 pupil, said his son was attacked by three white boys at the school. He said they threw him against a window. Tima said they had since opened a case against the school as he believed his son received no assistance.
Let's do the best we can as parents, let's stop fighting against ourselves.Andre Viljoen
"The learner was injured at the school premises," Tima said.
Another parent, Lerato Mofokeng, said her grade 8 child has complained about what happened to her friend and how a bottle of water was thrown at her when she tried to assist.
Mofokeng said her child is now withdrawn due to the incident. "Our children come and complain, we come and complain at the schools but nothing is done," she said.
Andre Viljoen said parents should stand together
"Let's do the best we can as parents, let's stop fighting against ourselves," he said.
Adriaan Diederick said: "Let's stop making this racism allegations until this case has been investigated."
Pierre Grobler said all pupils must be treated equal. "One disciplinary process and same punishment for all pupils," he said.
Susanna Tieties complained that her son now has two criminal records because of the school, saying her son was assaulted by teachers and the school head boy, who on one occasion had police lock him up for two hours.
Nozipho Mabena, a parent of a grade 11 pupil, said her child still refuses to attend school.
After the speech, Euginia Mdemka said they wanted equal treatment for all children.
"We feel much better, we see there is a future and some future and the school. We hope all the promised things will be implemented," she said.
She called for the SGB to be dismantled and form a new one that represented all races.
"If they can change the name of the school, things will be better," she said.
Leshia Botha said she was feeling hopeful after the meeting.
"I am feeling very hopeful that our school will be a beacon of change and equality. I am hoping our kids will be a beacon of hope, not only for the school but for the community and this town," she said.
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