Cape Town - The Heathfield High School Action Committee protested outside the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) offices yesterday, demanding that new head of the Education Department (HOD) Brent Walters drop all charges against principal Wesley Neumann.
The committee, together with the school governing body (SGB), wrote a letter to Walters, who recently started as the HOD, requesting he drop the charges against Neumann, and informed him to be available at 8.30am, to meet with them outside his offices.
When the committee arrived in front of the department's offices at the Golden Acre, they were informed that Walters had other commitments, however, two other officials were assigned to receive the letter on his behalf.
A committee member and former Trafalgar High School principal Nadeem Hendricks said the department lost the sense of justice because they wanted to work with a specific system.
Hendricks said they wouldn't be supporting Neumann if they knew he was wrong.
"No, he was right, because he was doing the best thing for our children,“ they said of Neumann.
The hearing case against Neumann, who is facing six charges, following his refusal to reopen the school amid the Covid-19 infection peak last year, is ongoing.
Progressive Organisation Formation (POF) interim secretary Brian Isaacs said they would be visiting the WCED offices, every day, to support Neumann, and that their committee would meet soon to discuss the way forward.
WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said it was well aware of the campaign to discredit the WCED and the ongoing legal process by "this small minority group", which included dismissed principals and teachers, that were not employed by the WCED.
Hammond said yesterday’s media stunt was no different, and that Walters wrote to the SGB yesterday, noting their email dated April 20, sent at 7.41pm, requesting him to be present to receive a petition the following morning at 8.30am.
She said Walters indicated that the request to avail himself at such short notice was unreasonable, and that he had asked two senior officials to collect the petition.
Hammond said the protesters refused to hand over the petition to the officials. "Walters emphasised that he had already indicated that the legal process must be allowed to continue, and should do so unhindered by any party."
Hammond said he (Walters) said that the charges that have been brought against Neumann were being contemplated in a hearing where he was being given a fair opportunity to answer them.
She said Walters asked that the SGB respect the legal process, and emphasised the fact that he had previously indicated to the SGB that he was willing to meet with the SGB on the matter, once the hearing has been concluded.