What was meant to be a peaceful resolution of a dispute pertaining to the appointment of a principal at a school has turned violent, with SAPS officers resorting to shooting.
Parents at Roodepoort Primary School in Davidsonville in Gauteng's West Rand have denied that their call for the principal to step down is racially motivated.
Here is a brief audio timeline of how events unfolded.
06h48 am, a concerned parent Mpho called into 702's John Robbie Show with Udo Carelse:
What this is all about is that the three top management positions were filled by people with no qualifications and we suspect that bribery was involved. What we did as the committee is that we asked the MEC that the whole process be done over. (Responding on Udo's question of an investigation that cleared these people) an investigation done by whom? People that were paid by the Department of Education? The MEC had two meetings with the committee members and they were not happy, yet they provided him with proof that there was bribery involved and these people had no qualifications. That was last year on the 28th of November and he hasn't come back to them since. (On coloured parents wanting to keep things coloured) the black parents and teachers wanted to make this a racial issue, but it isn't.
07h24am, Gauteng Education Spokesperson Phumla Sekhonyane maintains government's stance that this is racially motivated:
It was important that in the interest of the children that teaching continued and the MEC called the parents - especially representative of the community there - that they find a way forward there. What we've agreed on is that we will withdraw the principal that we sent there and we'll give the acting principal a chance to be there until the end of March. We have our officials onsite and they seem to be reporting that things are going on as normal.
08h11am a parent Refiloe calls and talks about a racial split evident at the school :
As one of the parents with kids at the school, I was coming to listen to the big announcement that the department had here. But I see now that the black people are on the one side and the coloured people are on the other side, now people are fighting: it's a mess. When the spokesperson said that 'things are normal', there's no such thing, it's rubbish. The kids are not at school, even my kids aren't at school. I've tried sending my kids to school, but I've been prevented.
Within minutes, at 08h20, parents Refiloe and Mpho called in again, with Refiloe first making a mention of the shooting by SAPS:
Oh! It's a mess now! They were letting in the principal who was on suspension and things went wild. And now the police - there's a shooting now - the black people were allowing the principal under suspension to drive in, while the coloured one - the acting principal - is on premises and the coloured community are fighting against it. It's a mess.
Mpho sounded as upset as Refiloe with the situation:
It's only just black people that are protesting and making it violent because they are hitting the community members' cars and there are gunshots and there's children on the premises! And they were given an instruction to go to the community hall where the MEC would be addressing them and now it's violent and there are kids here! I think it's rubber bullets, but I'm not sure because I stayed away. I don't wanna go up front.
This article first appeared on 702 : Tensions over principal appointment lead into a shoot out