pupils in limbo as school closes

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

Bhobhobho Primary School in KwaNongoma has been closed and 350 pupils sent home after eight teachers handed letters to their principal requesting transfers to other schools.

The action is in protest against the "unsafe and life- threatening conditions at the school". There has been no effective learning at the school since a hijacking incident left a teacher, Thembi Mngomezulu, dead four months ago.

After the murder, the department's district officials promised to deploy security guards. This has allegedly not happened.

Yesterday teachers left pupils stranded after handing letters of resignation to the principal.

National Teachers Union official , Xolani Mthethwa, said he has had a number of meetings with the teachers in which he pleaded with them to continue teaching for the sake of the pupils.

"The teachers claim the hijackers have threatened to return to harm them," he said.

Mthethwa advised the teachers to follow procedure and apply for transfers if they felt that their lives were in danger.

"The procedure is that in the case of intimidation, a teacher has the right to apply for a transfer, but must report to a local circuit office daily," Mthethwa said.

He said teachers were willing to teach if the department deployed security guards at the school.

Meanwhile, Ubuhlebomzinyathi High School in Newcastle was closed after angry pupils accused principal Nokuthula Gloria Madlala of witchcraft.

Several vehicles belonging to the education department's district officials who came to re-instate the principal were stoned and school property damaged.

A former pupil was arrested for assault and damaging school property.

The decision to re-instate Madlala was taken by education officials and the school's governing body last week. The school has been closed for more than a week.

Grade 12 examinations have not been disturbed after an alternative venue was hastily arranged.

However, the writing of exams by pupils in grades 7 to 11, consisting of more than 300 pupils, has been suspended.

The province's education head, Cassius Lubisi, gave a directive to lock the gates of Ubuhlebomzinyathi until a resolution has been found.

Department spokesman Mbali Thusi said the circuit office will deploy two security guards at the school as an interim measure while the process of appointing a security company is finalised.

"We are confident that the matter will be resolved amicably," said Thusi yesterday.