Schweizer-Reneke teacher says some people trying to destroy her life

Elena Barkhuizen on Tuesday addressed a joint press conference with trade union Solidarity.
Elena Barkhuizen on Tuesday addressed a joint press conference with trade union Solidarity.
Image: Alon Skuy

Elana Barkhuizen, the North West teacher who has been suspended on allegations of racism, believes that there are people who are trying to ruin her life.

Barkhuizen was suspended last Thursday after a photo of four black children sitting at a separate table behind a door away from white pupils in a grade R class at Laerskool Schweizer –Reneke went viral.

On Tuesday, trade union Solidarity and Barkhuizen addressed a joint press conference in Centurion.

A tearful Barkhuizen, who is fighting for her suspension to be lifted, introduced herself as a mother, a woman and a teacher.

“I do not know what the people who tried to ruin my life wanted to achieve. I just know that I had to stand and watch powerlessly as I was being judged from the stage. I had to watch how people who have never met me tell me they know exactly who I am. I will not be told what my worth is by people who do not know me,” she said.

Barkhuizen said her job is not politics but teaching.

Elana Barkhuizen‚ the teacher at the centre of the racism storm at a North West primary school‚ held a joint media briefing with Solidarity in Pretoria on Tuesday, January 15 2018 where she released a statement about the viral photo that led to her suspension, and announced her intention to fight back.

“Last week my world changed; a photograph I took of a class full of happy, smiling children on their first day of school was used by opportunists against my children, against me and against my school,” she said.

Barkhuizen said people who know her says she is a good teacher.

“People who know me fight to have their children in my class and people who know me know that I put my whole heart into my work for my learners,” she said.

She urged South Africans not to be sorry for her as she will  not surrender. “ I will fight to make sure that what happened will never happen to any other teacher,” she said.

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