Cape Town - In an emotional address, Heathfield High School principal Wesley Neumann bid farewell to learners who had stood so firmly with him, as he readied to leave to another school in a demotion offered by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED).
Prior to the address, learners led by the Student Representative Council, protested outside of the school and at Spar Bergvliet, on Monday morning, in support of Neumann, embroiled in a legal dispute with the WCED.
These mobilisations among other actions are expected to continue. Today, a teacher solidarity meeting will be held at the school at 3pm followed by a community meeting at 6pm.
In October 2021, Neumann was found guilty on six charges of misconduct. A sanction of dismissal was imposed by the presiding officer in respect to five of the six charges.
Neumann filed a notice of appeal on November 4.
From May to July 2020, the WCED said he incited personnel, learners and the community on social media to refrain from attending school or to report to duty during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The department said a sanction of dismissal stands unless Neumann is prepared to accept a demotion to Department Head at one of three schools, by no later than Friday.
During a special assembly, Neumann took time to thank all for their support, and journey with him.
“I’m very emotional, very sad… I haven’t slept for four days. There is a continuous turning in one’s tummy, my eyes are itchy and burning, you just can’t sleep even though you want to sleep. You feel like you want to throw up constantly, you want to eat but you can’t. And I ask myself ‘why am I going through these things and the only reason I can come to is because of the children sitting in front of me. I truly appreciate and love each one of you.”
Neumann said he’s expected to handover the school on Wednesday and Thursday, with his last day on Friday.
Action Committee member Nadeem Hendricks called for all charges against Neumann to be dropped and for Neumann to remain principal of Heathfield High School.
Action Committee member Abdurahman Khan said: “Debbie Schafer has left the WCED in disarray. We now appeal to MEC David Maynier and HOD Brent Walters to come and clean up her mess. We have full confidence in Brent Walters to remedy the situation.”
Action Committee spokesperson Brian Isaacs called for Neumann’s reinstatement immediately.
WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the department is aware of the protest which had disrupted teaching and learning.