School gatvol with state

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

Teachers at yet another troubled KwaZulu-Natal school say they are gatvol with the department of education for ignoring their call to remove their "bullying" principal.

Teachers at Shikishela Primary School in Mtubatuba had high hopes when MEC for education Ina Cronje visited the school last week to intervene in the conflict that has forced school principal Rose Mthembu to have bodyguards for her own safety. But they alleged "Cronje's visit was a spur of the moment reaction".

"She only met with parents, and her visit has made the situation worse," said one teacher.

Cronje, however, was happy with her visit to the school. She told Sowetan that she was "hopeful" that things would return to normal. "I have been given the assurance from the community that they will commit themselves to accept the principal."

Asked why she did not address the teachers, Cronje said she was running late to attend another meeting and did not have enough time to speak to the teachers.

Mthembu was deployed to the school in 2002 after its principal, Lawrence Mthombeni, became the mayor of Umkhanyakude District Municipality.

Teachers at the school questioned her appointment. Parents also asked why candidates who had acted in the post were not hired.

The unhappiness forced the department to probe the appointment and when nothing irregular was found, the department confirmed the appointment.

Mthembu was given special paid leave for five years as neither teachers nor the Shikishela community wanted her.

The school functioned without a principal for the entire period until the department asked her to return to the school in May this year. Her return made no difference, as conflict reached boiling point, forcing Mthembu to hire bodyguards.

National Teachers Union chairman Allen Thompson said yesterday that since Mthembu's appointment teachers at the school had been subjected to insults, bullying and intimidation.

Meanwhile, a similar situation at Mandlakayise Primary School in Inanda, where 20 teachers are currently on special paid leave, has resulted in the shooting of school principal Frances Mthembu (not related to Rose). She was shot 14 times a week ago and is recovering at a Durban hospital. Teachers at the school have accused her of "bullying and victimisation".