‘Racial slurs’ at top school

The Mercury - - FRONT PAGE - Nosipho Mngoma

ATEACHER at an exclusive Dur­ban pri­vate school has been sus­pended amid al­le­ga­tions of hurling racial slurs at Grade 4 pupils.

The par­ents of some the Grade 4 pupils in the Craw­ford La Lu­cia spoke to The Mer­cury yes­ter­day on con­di­tion of anonymity while oth­ers de­clined, in both cases for fear of their chil­dren be­ing fur­ther vic­timised.

They each re­ceived an email from the school no­ti­fy­ing them of the com­puter teacher’s im­me­di­ate sus­pen­sion for “mis­con­duct”, a day af­ter the in­ci­dent on Tues­day.

“My son told me some of them were hav­ing trou­ble log­ging into the web­site they use for lessons. It hap­pens that most of them were black, and when more and more chil­dren asked for help, she snapped at them and said the prob­lem was that ‘you peo­ple have too many names’. She then pointed out all the black kids in the class, and con­tin­ued with the un­savoury re­marks,” said one par­ent.

Ap­proached for com­ment, Craw­fordS­chools manag­ing direc­tor An­war Kar­rim yes­ter­day con­firmed that al­le­ga­tions of racial re­marks were raised against the teacher, whose name is be­ing with­held.

It is not clear if it was the pupils who had re­ported the mat­ter to school man­age­ment.

The par­ent said: “It makes me so an­gry that in this day and age there are peo­ple who still per­ceive black peo­ple as lesser hu­man be­ings. It’s unimag­in­able that a teacher sub­jected our chil­dren to such ha­tred. Th­ese are 9- and 10-year-olds; for her to think it was okay to say that to chil­dren is in­dica­tive of an en­vi­ron­ment which is con­ducive to racial be­hav­iour and mind­sets.”

The par­ents be­lieve the month’s sus­pen­sion is a slap on the wrist, but Kar­rim said “the sus­pen­sion is not a penalty or sanc­tion, but rather gives the school the op­por­tu­nity to in­ves­ti­gate the mat­ter fully”.


The time frame was in ac­cor­dance with the Labour Re­la­tions Act, which re­quires that a staff mem­ber must re­ceive no­tice of the length of sus­pen­sion.

“At this point, we can­not com­ment on the out­come of this in­ves­ti­ga­tion as it forms part of a process that may lead to dis­ci­plinary ac­tion,” said Kar­rim.

The par­ent also ac­cused the school of down­play­ing the in­ci­dent, but Kar­rim said “the staff and pupil code of con­duct clearly states that vic­tim­i­sa­tion, in­clud­ing but not lim­ited to bul­ly­ing, fight­ing, in­tim­i­da­tion, sex­ual ha­rass­ment and any dis­play of racism or re­li­gious in­tol­er­ance will be se­verely dealt with”.

This was not the ex­pe­ri­ence of another par­ent, who claimed there was bla­tant racism at the school.

“I am not be­ing delu­sional; I have seen and ex­pe­ri­enced it per­son­ally and heard from my son just how bad it is.”

She said while her chil­dren, who are In­dian, ex­celled aca­dem­i­cally, the treat­ment they were sub­jected to at the school was break­ing their spir­its.

Both par­ents said they had com­plained about racial dis­crim­i­na­tion be­fore, but Kar­rim de­nied hav­ing re­ceived any racial com­plaints.

“Craw­fordS­chools prides it­self on hav­ing mod­ern, pro­gres­sive in­sti­tu­tions of learn­ing that em­brace di­ver­sity. Be­cause of this ap­proach to ed­u­ca­tion, Craw­fordS­chools are pop­u­lar schools for par­ents who seek to pro­vide their chil­dren with the op­por­tu­nity to be ex­posed to, and to ap­pre­ci­ate, cul­tural, re­li­gious and racial di­ver­sity,” he said,

In re­sponse to claims that the school hired only white teach­ers, he said although there were no per­ma­nent black African teach­ers em­ployed at the school, there were a num­ber of black teach­ers in terms of the def­i­ni­tion of black in ref­er­ence to the Black Eco­nomic Em­pow­er­ment Act.

“Craw­fordS­chools is com­mit­ted to trans­for­ma­tion and ac­tively seeks to em­ploy ex­cel­lent teach­ers who re­flect the di­ver­sity of our stu­dent body,” Kar­rim said.

At least one of the moth­ers said they had tried to take their chil­dren out of the school but had dif­fi­culty find­ing a new school due to the time of the year. Two of them said their chil­dren would not be re­turn­ing to Craw­ford La Lu­cia next year.

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