INCIDENT: Solomon Qatyana Primary School pupils and parents locked WCED inspector Henk Punt, centre, and principal Nokwazi Mniki, below, inside toilets on school grounds. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane

Cape Town - The school principal and circuit inspector who had been held hostage by pupils and parents in the toilets of Solomon Qatyana Primary School in Llwandle, Strand, have been severely traumatised.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) said the inspector, Henk Punt, told the hostage takers that he “wasn’t feeling well” but they wouldn’t listen.

The department condemned the actions of the pupils and parents.

“Our circuit manager was visiting the principal (on Tuesday) when the chair of the Governing Body, insisted that he inspect the school’s toilets.”

According to Punt, P Makhubela locked the door of the toilet block from the outside once he and the principal had entered.

“Learners then arrived with posters and toyi-toyied at the toilets from 11.40am to 1.22pm when police arrived and took Mr Punt to the staff room where he was kept against his will until 3pm."

Nokwazi Mniki, the school principal, said: “I am still traumatised and disappointed by the parents and governing body actions regarding the toilets.”

The department would be meeting the parents, a counsellor and the governing body today. The pupils and parents locked the principal and the inspector in foul-smelling toilets, which they have been complaining about.

Discussions with parents and the school body were held by the police to bring peace, but the parents were left unsatisfied.

Vuyiseka Malawa, 37, mother of a Grade 6 pupil, said: “We are tired of empty promises the school has been here for about 15 years now, we don’t know what they were waiting for. In today’s meeting we don’t want any promises we will demand to get the actual date for the school building, we don’t want it to be built in 2020-2021 and we are giving them a week for the bathrooms.”

Planning is scheduled to start in 2019. The school currently comprises mobile classrooms.

“The WCED is implementing a programme to replace schools built of inappropriate materials, mainly ‘plankie’ schools that are several decades old. It should be noted that the department has already appointed a contractor to service the toilets and electrical fittings in the ablution block.

“The value of the contract is R210 000.”

Punt had laid a criminal charge with the police and they would investigate this incident fully “and hold those responsible to account”, the department said.

Cape Argus