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Mcebo Dlamini appears in court. Picture Credit: Julia Madibogo
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'Bullying' principal shot on way to work

By unknown | Jun 11, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

The principal of Mandlakayise Primary School in Inanda, accused by her staff of "bullying and victimisation", was shot 14 times while leaving her home in KwaMashu on Monday.

Police said Frances Mthembu, 40, came under fire from a lone gunman. She was seriously wounded and was rushed to hospital. She is in a stable condition.

Police could not confirm if her attack is related to the chaos at the school and the tension between Mthembu and her staff members.

Police spokesman Sizwe Nxumalo said yesterday: "Though the incident has not been linked to the tension at the school, our investigation cannot rule out the possibility that this is linked to the situation at the school."

No one has been arrested or taken in for questioning.

The department of education yesterday condemned the attack.

"We wish her a speedy recovery and trust that the police will arrest the criminals responsible and establish the motive for this vicious attack," said provincial education superintendent-general Cassius Lubisi.

The principal's attack comes barely a week after the department of education set up a task team to investigate allegations of intimidation against her.

Mthembu was suspended from the school in 2006 after a disciplinary hearing found her guilty of accepting bribes from unemployed teachers.

She was suspended for three months without pay. However, in April this year the department reinstated her as principal, saying there were no other positions available for her.

On the day she returned to the school about 20 teachers downed tools in protest against her reinstatement and asked the department to transfer them to other schools.

The teachers are on special leave until the task team pronounces its findings, or until the department finds them positions at other schools.

The teachers told the provincial department of education that they had received death threats and were warned not to continue to oppose Mthembu's reinstatement.

The department did not take the teachers' complaints seriously until they obtained court orders to protect them from their "bullying" principal.

The teachers, most of them members of the National Teachers' Union (Natu), were granted special leave two weeks ago after union officials intervened.

Classes at the school have been disrupted for a month. Teachers who were not part of the strike have combined classes to cope with the workload.

After news that Mthembu had been shot, classes were suspended and pupils sent home. Yesterday, a few pupils came to school, but no teaching took place and pupils were sent home again.

In 2006 a school administration clerk was shot and killed on school premises a day before department officials were to assess the school's financial records.

Those close to the school say they believe that the clerk's killing was linked to the financial audit and whoever killed him wanted to "shut him up".


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