Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The KwaZulu-Natal Education Department and the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) have locked horns as race tensions at the George Campbell School of Technology in Durban rage on.

Classes were disrupted on Tuesday when staff refused to leave a staff room over what the union described as "safety concerns". They want one of the student leaders suspended‚ saying that he makes them fear for their safety.

This follows days of protest action‚ organised by learners‚ over alleged "systemic racism" at the school. Student leaders alleged that teachers had regularly called black learners monkeys and other offensive terms. Two members of staff have been suspended pending the outcome of a departmental investigation.

Naptosa spokesperson Therona Moodley said the union had been summoned to the school by their members. "Our members are not willing to put their lives at risk and they have been manhandled by this learner. They want him removed and placed elsewhere‚" she said. "He would be tutored but separately‚ away from the school. The staff fear for their safety and we said if they did not return to class because the learner was not removed, we would support them."

Moodley said it was not the first time the learner has been involved in a violent incident. "The management let it ride and right now we need to take a stand‚" she said.

Department spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa said that unionised teachers were advised to wait for the outcome of an investigation before protesting because the pupil had not been suspended. "Teachers were further told that such a protest would be unprotected and dismissible," he said. "[As to] the implicated learner‚ Naptosa was advised to wait for an interim investigation report. Teaching and learning continues smoothly."

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