Claims of abuse of power at uMlazi school
DURBAN - A HIGH school teacher has broken her silence about her experience of an alleged abuse of power by the principal of the uMlazi school she taught at and claimed she was assaulted by the chairperson of the school governing body.
She appealed to the Department of Education to intervene in order to end the chaos at the school, but was apparently told the department was aware of the dynamics at the school and that the principal was a “scapegoat”.
The school was rocked by several allegations including misuse of funds, of teachers having sexual relationships with pupils and that the principal did not follow processes when hiring staff.
Last month, the staff had protested by calling for the removal of the school’s principal, whom they accused of unprofessional conduct.
They had prepared a six-page memorandum with a number of grievances against the principal.
A teacher had also demonstrated against the principal accusing him of unfair dismissal of a matron.
Chaos broke out again at the school on Thursday between two teacher factions ahead of the SGB elections this weekend.
The chaos ended with some of the teachers being chased out of the school.
Disheartened, the teacher, who was supported by her colleagues, told the Daily News how she was allegedly assaulted by the SGB chairperson in the full view of parents and teachers. She was apparently denied access to the venue where a parents meeting took place in February.
Her union leader, the Public Servants Union of South Africa (PSA) provincial manager Mlungisi Ndlovu decried the ongoing abuse of employees at the school and lack of intervention by the department, stating that the incident left their members traumatised who felt helpless. They said the department failed to intervene despite several letters addressed to the District as well as Education MEC Kwazi Mthethwa’s office.
“I was assaulted for wanting to be part of a parents meeting on February 5. I wanted to explain to the parents the truth of what is going on at the school, because some teachers were being falsely accused of not doing their jobs. I wanted to set the record straight, instead I was hit with a case and slapped for standing up for the teachers.”
She said she opened a case of assault against the SGB chairperson.
“He ended up paying a fine of R1 500. However, this was after I was pressurised to agree to a fine instead of proceed with the court case.”
“I was embarrassed and demoralised after being assaulted by a man who is clearly untouchable. I had no choice but to agree to his fake apology because I feared that I would be victimised by the principal, who is his best friend. I am currently going for counselling to deal with what I went through.
“Going forward I took a decision to keep silent during meetings for fear of being assaulted again.”
Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala confirmed a case was opened at the uMlazi police station after the complainant alleged that she was assaulted.
“A 60-year-old suspect was arrested. He made several court appearances and the matter was withdrawn at court,” said Gwala.
Regarding the allegations of assault by the SGB chairperson, Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said: “It is very regrettable act by people we entrust with the governance and education of our children. We are attending to this matter as the department.”
Regarding the petition sent to the department, he said the allegations lacked evidence.
“We invited them to give us evidence. We have been to the school several times and we know exactly what is going on there,” said Mahlambi.
The school principal has declined to comment and the SGB chairperson has ignored attempts to reach him for comment.