Danie Ackerman principal says 23 learners arrived drunk at the school. Picture: ANA Pictures
Cape Town – A primary school principal has taken to Facebook to take on a major supermarket chain after 23 of his learners arrived drunk at school.

According to Danie Ackermann principal, Hein Swart, in March, a 17-year-old learner from another school bought the alcohol at Checkers Hypermarket in Somerset Mall, Somerset West, and shared it with his pupils.

He said he tried to engage with the shop for months, but it’s only after he posted about the incident on Facebook on Monday that they responded.

“After months of nothing from Checkers Hyper, barely three hours after we posted to Facebook and the school’s governing body was already busy with our attorney, we received a call from the Checkers head office,” said the principal.

“We were asked by Checkers and the police to keep the incident as quiet as possible, but an entire term had passed and we saw no other way but to involve the community.”

He said they were concerned about the fact that young children could get their hands on alcohol so easily.

Danie Ackerman principal says 23 learners arrived drunk at the school. Picture: ANA Pictures

“My issue is the safety of the children,” he said.

Jessica Shelver, spokesperson for Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer, says: “The principal reported that a 17-year-old Grade 9 learner from a different school reportedly purchased alcohol from the liquor store in Checkers Somerset Mall on the Saturday morning of the fundraising event. Learners reportedly arrived at school and appeared to have consumed alcohol.”

She says the principal indicated that he had tried to engage with Checkers several times following an initial meeting that took place on 30 March, but did not receive a response until Monday when Jean Marais, Operational Manager for Shoprite / Checkers Liquor Shops, contacted him.

Shelver says the school social worker is working with the affected learners to provide support and counselling.

“We will be reporting the matter to the Western Cape Liquor Authority for investigation,” she adds.

But Checkers said they had investigated the matter and said the principal was lying.

“Checkers is very strict about complying with the Liquor Law and takes its responsibility towards the communities in which it operates very seriously,” it said.

“Checkers supermarkets do not sell alcohol to minors. The allegations in the Facebook post you refer to have been duly and thoroughly investigated and found to be untrue.”

But principal Smit said the supermarket needs to take responsibility.

“We would not have gone to social media if we had received co-operation the first time,” he says.