Some of the parents of Assegai Primary in Wentworth have rejected the appointment of the new principal. The matter now looks set to head for the Durban High Court.

Durban - The controversy surrounding the appointment of a Wentworth school principal is now headed for the Durban High Court as the department of education tries to restore order at the school.

For weeks, angry parents have been blockading the gates to prevent the newly appointed principal, Sharon Ndlovu, from assuming duties at Assegai Primary School. 

These parents, backed by the school governing body (SGB), claim that Ndlovu’s appointment was not above board as some processes were flawed.

Instead they want another candidate, a teacher at the school, to be appointed.

The chairman of the SGB, Andre de Bruin, on Sunday told The Mercury that the department had taken him, his deputy at the SGB and a few other parents to court over the impasse at the school.

“We have a very good legal team and yes, we will be opposing the interdict on Wednesday at the Durban High Court because we feel we have a leg to stand on,” De Bruin said.

However, the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) said the protesting parents had no real case against the appointment of the principal and accused them of racism.

“All in all, it is about race because some of these people have been saying they cannot have a Zulu-speaking principal. They claim she does not qualify, forgetting that she was shortlisted based on her meeting the requirements,” said Bonga Mbambo, the secretary of Sadtu’s Victoria Mxenge branch.

The SGB rubbished claims of racism, saying all it wanted was to ensure that a suitably qualified person was appointed. 

Ndlovu, who holds an Honours degree and boasts 15 years’ experience as a teacher, scored the highest points out of all the five candidates who had been shortlisted.

She also has three years’ experience as head of department at a school. But De Bruin said she did not have enough management experience. 

“How do you explain that she scored above a principal and two deputies who had applied for a post?” he asked.

A former chairperson of the SGB, Duiker Duma, who presided over the interview process, said it had been a fair process.

Duma also feels that racism was behind the rejection of Ndlovu.

“There was nothing wrong with the process. The new principal scored the highest and the deputy principal who they want came in at number four. In this South Africa, racism cannot be tolerated,” said Duma, who has since resigned from the body.

He said his resignation had nothing to do with the debacle.

De Bruin, however, claimed that there were many serious irregularities.

 “Just before the interview started, one member of the panel got a call to go to work. That means there were no longer five members of the panel, but four. Then out of those, the secretary was told they could not participate in the scoring,” he said.

De Bruin also alleged interference from Sadtu.

Kwazi Mthethwa, the spokesperson of the department of education, said it was going ahead with the appointment and would not be dictated to by a small group of people.

“Appointments are not a beauty contest whereby candidates have to have certain looks. We recruit employees based on qualifications,” he said.

Mthethwa said what was happening at the school was an “extreme” case of interference. “They (protesting parents) seemingly don't have the interests at heart of the learners.”

De Bruin said the SGB had sent its legal team to make representations to the MEC for Education, Mthandeni Dlungwana, on the matter and was determined that the appointment not be finalised before the whole appeal process had finished. Ndlovu refused to grant interviews.

The Mercury