The suspended North West's Laerskool Schweizer Reneke teacher, Elana Barkhuizen and members of Solidarity Trade Union during a media briefing at Forever Hotel in Centurion. Picture: Virgilatte Gwangwa

Pretoria -  "I am Elana Barkhuizen, I am a mother, I am a woman, I am a teacher and people who know me say I am a good teacher," the suspended teacher at North West's Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke said as she started her briefing. 

Although Barkhuizen could not get into the merits of the incident, she explained her character and what the incident has done to her and her family thus far. 

She said: "Last week, my world changed, a photograph I took of a class full of happy, smiling children on their first day of school was used by opportunists against my children, against me and against my school. 

"Unsure Grade R learners on their first day at school were mercilessly exploited by these people," she said.  

Barkhuizen said this during a joint briefing by Barkhuizen and trade union Solidarity at the Forever Hotel in Centurion.

The suspended North West's Laerskool Schweizer Reneke teacher, Elana Barkhuizen and members of Solidarity Trade Union during a media briefing at Forever Hotel in Centurion. Video: Virgilatte Gwangwa


The union's Chief Executive Officer, Dr Dirk Hermann told the media that a huge injustice has been done to Barkhuizen and her family and due to that, she deserves an apology.

Herman said the union will represent Barkhuizen and help clear her name as she was unlawfully suspended. 

"Elana Barkhuizen is not the teacher of the class, she only took the photograph of the class," he said. 

Laerskool Schweizer Reneke made headlines when a picture of the Grade R class went viral.

The briefing comes after the school made headlines last week after an image showing black and white pupils sat at separate tables in a grade R classroom circulated on various social media platforms. 

Due to the incident, Barkhuizen was suspended, but the union has since challenged her suspension, saying it is unlawful.

Barkhuizen has been suspended, pending the outcome of the investigation with the provincial MEC Sello Lehari on the forefront of the probe.

The North West Education task team aimed to conclude its investigation into claims of racism at the school within three weeks.

A case of defamation will be opened against the Lehari this week. 

Pretoria News