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Pietermaritzburg - Racism, or sour grapes? That’s what parents at a prestigious Pietermaritzburg private school are debating as a civil suit heads for the courts.
While some parents and the management of St Charles College have denied the existence of racism at the school, a former pupil has come forward claiming he was discriminated against for being Indian.
Kalin Nundlall, who matriculated from St Charles last year, has supported the claims of the father of the school’s axed cricket captain, who lodged the civil action.
In an affidavit filed with the Pietermaritzburg High Court last week, Nundlall said he was dropped from the school’s cricket first team when he was in grades 10 and 11, for no reason.
The allegations of prejudice surfaced earlier this year when the parent of the former captain claimed in court papers that his 17-year-old son, who is in matric, suffered damage to his reputation and dignity after he was dropped.
While the school is defending its decision to drop the pupil because of a slump in his form – he allegedly scored only 17 runs in seven matches – the father is convinced racism was the motivating factor behind his son’s demotion.
He said the head coach was “not comfortable” with an Indian being the captain of the team. The father is seeking a court order forcing the school to convene an internal hearing to resolve the dispute.
In the interim, he wants his son reinstated as captain.
The father has denied that his son’s form had suffered and has rejected the scores stated by the school.
In court papers, St Charles headmaster, Allen Van Blerk, dismissed allegations of racism. “Players are chosen on merit by a selection committee,” said Van Blerk.
Meanwhile, parents of pupils at St Charles have come out in support of the school’s administration, describing the allegations of racism as “sour grapes” and “mischief-making” on the part of the axed captain’s father.
Devan Naidoo, who has two sons there, said his children were happy at the school and had never experienced prejudice or racism.
“This is a school that instils humility and hard work in our boys in the classroom and on the sports field. I cannot believe any of the teachers or coaches would ever condone racism at any level,” said Naidoo.
Another parent, who requested anonymity, revealed that her son had also been dropped from the school’s first cricket team after a string of bad performances.
“That is the nature of the game. This man is not doing his child any favours by taking the school to task,” she said.
The case is expected to be placed on the court roll for trial next year.