Sibongile Mashaba and Tebogo Monama
In what is meant to serve as a strong message to lazy teachers, the Gauteng department of education has sacked 28 teachers from a school in Alexandra in Johannesburg.
The action has, however, angered teacher unions, prompting them to threaten a boycott of classes in the township.
The teachers are from KwaBhekilanga Secondary School.
"We will replace the teachers as soon as possible," department spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said yesterday.
The department took action after receiving a memorandum from the school's pupils, who demanded that all 45 teachers at the school be fired.
The pupils sent the memorandum just before they broke for the Easter school holidays.\
"The pupils claim their teachers are lazy. They no longer want them," Lesufi said.
The new school term started on a bad note on Monday when pupils and their parents locked the school gates and refused teachers entry onto the premises.
"The teachers have been accused of being incompetent and not attending classes. We had a meeting with the teachers, learners and parents. The learners demanded that all teachers be fired, but we reached a compromise.
"We asked them to compile a list of all the teachers who bunk classes and they came up with 28 names," Lesufi said.
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) and the Professional Educators Union (Peu) have pulled out of negotiations and threaten to withdraw all their members from the school.
Speaking on behalf of all the unions, Sadtu regional secretary Ronald Nyathi said: "There won't be any schooling in the whole township. We are showing solidarity with the fired teachers.
"The MEC's office does not have the pupils' interests at heart. They have an inability to support staff members. Removing teachers will not solve the problem, pupils are the problem."
Nyathi said they would deal with teachers that did not heed their call to boycott classes.
KwaBhekilanga Secondary last year obtained a 45,9percent pass rate for matric.