Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke Picture: Molaole Montsho/African News Agency (ANA)

Schweizer-Reneke - The suspended Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke teacher must be replaced by a black teacher, the Young Communist League (YCL) said. 

"We want a black teacher to replace the suspended teacher. We want to see employment equity and affirmative action implemented at the school, 99.9 percent of teachers at this school are whites," Dr Ruth Mompati District YCL committee member, Pule Ramabodu said.

North West Education MEC Sello Lehari on Thursday, suspended Grade R teacher Elana Barkhuizen after she allegedly took and shared a picture with parents in a WhatsApp group, showing four black children separated from white children in her class. 

She was reportedly wanting to show parents that children had settled in class.

The controversial picture went viral on social media, prompting the North West education to launch an investigation. A report is expected next week. 

Lehari said Barkhuizen was suspended pending investigation but, irate black parents wanted her fired and the principal suspended. They told Lehari to hire a black teacher.

Announcing the suspension, Lehari said the school explained that the black children were separated from white children because they could not understand Afrikaans and English.

"We did not accept that explanation," Lehari said. "The teacher Elana Barkhuizen is suspended with immediate effect."

The Democratic Alliance  North West provincial leader Joe McGluwa said language barrier should not be used to separate children. "They are at school to learn the language, they must not be segregated," he said.

Ramabodu said it was not the first time that they had complained about racism at the school. "In 2008 we marched to the school about racism. The school enrolled black learners but they were subjected to accusations of selling drugs and not being serious in class.

"Racism makes black learners feel inferior. It is a mechanism whites use to force blacks to drop out of school. The racial act aimed to only have white learners at this school," he said.

Schooling started without any incident on Friday morning. 

On Thursday, parents removed their children from the school amid heated protest over the controversial picture and some parents broke a part of the fence on the other side of the school to gain access and take their children away.

African News Agency/ANA