St John’s alumni speak out against alleged protection of racist teacher

St John's College alumni Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh and Markus Trengrove have slammed the school for protecting itself and a racist teacher from accountability.

The high school teacher was found to have victimised pupils based on their race and was found guilty of serious misconduct.

An independent council ordered that he remain at the school, but be given a final written warning and be removed from senior positions he held at the institution.

However, past and current pupils have spoken out against the lack of decisive action taken against the teacher.

The school council's chairman Dr Jon Patricios agrees that the matter has not been adequately handled and has tarnished their image.

He says St John's takes an anti-racism stand and will develop a charter for the school community to adopt.

The truth is that we don't have an anti-racism policy but we are busy devising one as part of transformation and diversity criteria.

Dr Jon Patricios, Chairman of Council at St John's College

We don't confront issues of race firmly in the eye enough, that's what we've got to do.

Dr Jon Patricios, Chairman of Council at St John's College

Patricios says it may have been more decisive to fire the teacher, but it would have gone against the principles of restorative justice.

He concedes that he is not satisfied by how the matter was handled by the institution and is committed to addressing the matter.

The process was meant to be one of trying to embrace restorative justice.

Dr Jon Patricios, Chairman of Council at St John's College

What I think they failed to acknowledge is that this is not a school issue, this is a societal issue... It sits in a very public space and has put St John's in a poor light and compromises the institution.

Dr Jon Patricios, Chairman of Council at St John's College

I, as a chairperson, am not happy with the situation going forward. We need to re-look at the situation.

Dr Jon Patricios, Chairman of Council at St John's College

LISTEN: Bongani lambastes St Johns College principal over racist teacher

Meanwhile, Mpofu-Walsh says the school is using the reconciliation argument to protect the school and teacher from the accountability.

I think the response has been shameful, abominable and embarrassing.

Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh, author and activist rapper

How does a school like St John's, 23 years after democracy, not have an anti-racism policy? The school has failed.

Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh, author and activist rapper

This notion of restorative justice is quite frankly nonsense. Reconciliation does not mean impunity. You can still have reconciliation with a fired teacher.

Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh, author and activist rapper

Trengrove argues that the teacher has shown no remorse and accused the school of hiring a PR company to cover their tracks, among other allegations.

Reconciliation requires truthfulness and remorse. We've seen neither of those from the school.

Markus Trengrove, a London based student in Philosophy

St John's College has gone out of its way to obfuscate the truth and try cover up the tracks of teacher. They've

Markus Trengrove, a London based student in Philosophy

He denied the charges, accused the boys of lying and conspiring against him. Now the school has found him guilty and they are suddenly they are interested in reconciliation. It's too late.

Markus Trengrove, a London based student in Philosophy

Patricios denied that the school pupils were made to sign non-disclosure agreements.

However, the council chair says a confidentiality agreement was in place between the school and the teacher.

He also explains that the school's communications department outsourced the services of a communications company to address the matter.

Take a listen:


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