Johannesburg - Several parents have come forward claiming their children have also suffered racial discrimination and verbal abuse because they wore red strings around their wrists, as part of their Hindu religion, at Parkdene Primary School in Boksburg.
This comes after The Star exposed a Grade 3 pupil’s three-year racism nightmare at the hands of his music teacher because he wore a red string.
The boy’s angry parents claimed his music teacher, who is married to the principal, had shouted racial and derogatory slurs at him because he was wearing a red string around his wrist as part of his Hindu religion.
They claim their son was ordered to take off the string and called a “coolie” several times in front of his classmates by his teacher.
Despite several complaints being laid against the teacher, nothing had been done. Instead, the parents were told their son should wear a jersey to hide the red string.
In a desperate attempt to get help for their son, who has been refusing to go to school, the couple wrote to Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy, asking her to intervene. The department is now investigating the matter.
One of the e-mails that The Star has received from a parent reads: “I know full well that this issue has been ongoing for over two years and many parents at this school did not come forward because they are scared of their children being victimised.
“This is not the only child that this happened to, there are more children that are being threatened and verbally abused by the same teacher. She is the only teacher in the school that has a problem with the red string.
“A teacher using abusive language and name-calling should not be allowed to teach at all. Why must a child be made to hide his cultural or traditional beliefs? This teacher has no traditional values.”
However, in a meeting with the Grade 3 boy’s parents on Wednesday, the principal said the pupil could wear his red string.
He assured them that everything had been sorted out and their son would not have to wear a jersey to cover the string.
According to the parents, the principal had apologised profusely for the discrimination their son has had to endure.
Reacting to what she said was the principal’s sudden change of heart, the boy’s angry mother said: “For the past three years, he was unfazed by this. Why is he apologising only after we have approached the authorities? I think this is just an act.”
She said the principal had told them in a meeting that the matter had been sorted out and he was going to try to make a difference.
The nine-year-old’s racism hell started when he was in Grade 1, after his music teacher noticed he was wearing a red string around his wrist, according to the parents. He was ordered to take it off.
The boy’s mother said: “What he has done to my child [cannot] happen to other children again. The Department of Education must do something about this principal as he is not fit to be a principal. How could he allow this to happen to children?”
The principal refused to comment, saying the department was dealing with the matter.