Good first day overall but…
● Racism spoils day as black kids are separated from whites at NW school ● Teacher drowns on way to work in KZN
The mother of one of the four black grade R pupils who were separated from their white classmates at SchweizerReneke Laerskool in North West is enraged by the incident. The parent of the five-yearold pupil said her heart sank after viewing a WhatsApp picture sent by her son’s class teacher on the parents’ chat group.
She said her son was excited to go to the new school and that also made her happy. But just two hours after dropping him off, it all changed.
The image showed 18 white pupils occupying a single large desk in the middle of the classroom, while the four black children in the class occupied one desk at the far end of the classroom.
The picture caused public outcry when it went viral on social media yesterday. The pupils’ seating arrangement was apparently later changed because of the social media backlash.
“I am p **** d off,” said the mother, who said she was not sure what further steps to take. “All I saw were messages from white parents saying dankie, dankie [thank you, thank you] on the WhatsApp chat group, but no one was saying anything about the separation of the learners.” Basic education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga also expressed his shock. He said after looking at the picture they contacted the provincial office to get more information.
“We have asked the district to assist us. We hope what we saw in the picture is not what really took place,” he said. The mother said the parents’ WhatsApp group was created last year after their children were accepted at the school. She said she did not think twice about taking her son to the school because his elder brother also went to the same school. She said she had not experienced any racism at the school until yesterday. Immediately after seeing the picture, the mother said she posted on Facebook and some of her friends advised her to call the principal. “He said he was not aware of the picture and that he will go and check what I was talking about.” She said what made her angrier was that some of the white parents on the chat group complained about the person who posted the picture on social media.
“I don’t get it, they kept [quiet] as if nothing happened, they did not see anything wrong in the seating arrangement,” she said. She said the school principal did not get back to her. She, however, promised to send her son to the same school again today. “I am glad that he did not notice what was going on, I have not told him but I need this to stop.” Seatlathebe Lepomane – the ANC regional chairperson at Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati, under which SchweizerReneke falls – said after seeing the picture on social media, he contacted the education district office and reported the matter. “We call on the department to give attention to white schools at Dr RSM municipality because private schools here are dominated by white people, and that’s where you find racism in the entire district.” Schweizer-Reneke is a small farming town 60km from Vryburg and has had several racial incidents in recent years. Lepomane made an example of Vryburg Hoërskool, where black pupils were separated from white pupils based on language. White pupils were taught in Afrikaans in all subjects while blacks were taught in English. “That is one of the elements that entrench racism in the society...” North West department of education spokesperson Freddy Sepeng said they were investigating the matter and that steps would be taken if it is found that what was in the picture was racial practice.
‘ ‘ I saw messages from white parents saying dankie, dankie
Bernadette Mekgoe shares a light moment with her grandson Mokgwaro on his first day of school at Melpark primary school in Melville, Johannesburg. Grade 1 pupils across the country took their first steps into formal education when the 2019 school year started yesterday.
A picture of a grade R class at Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke in North West, which shows white learners seated separately from their black counterparts in an apparently racial segregation incident.