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WATCH | Department to close Nigel school that's been unregistered for three years

Joost Zeelie is 56 years old, a former policeman, a self-taught maths teacher and the director of an unregistered private school – one of the dozens the education department has warned parents about.

He has been operating Hanniel Primary School in Nigel, on Johannesburg’s far East Rand, for the past three years. He told Times Select he felt “compelled” to help pupils. He taught mathematics to grade 4 to 7 pupils.

The Christian school charges a monthly fee of R2,650.

Zeelie’s wife, Estella, teaches grade R and his daughter Jani, 24, is the acting principal. Two teachers at Hanniel Primary, one teaching grade 2 and the other grade 3, do not have teaching qualifications.

Despite operating since January 2017, Zeelie applied for registration only in February 2018. His application has not yet been approved. He said he applied only in 2018 because he “was busy gathering registration documents from the internet”.

The school has about 80 pupils, including grade R pupils.

Gauteng education department spokesperson Steve Mabona said a letter would be sent to the school instructing it to stop operating as it was doing so illegally.

He said the department had conducted a site verification visit after the school had submitted an application for registration.

Since January last year, 64 unregistered schools in five provinces were instructed to close, including 28 in Eastern Cape, 26 in Gauteng, five in Limpopo, four in Northern Cape and one in Free State.

The Western Cape’s education department said it had received reports about 13 unregistered schools. Northern Cape education department spokesperson Geoffrey van der Merwe confirmed that applications for registration from four schools were unsuccessful and they were notified they had to close.

Lebogang Montjane, executive director of the Independent Schools' Association of Southern Africa, said: “You can’t simply be helping children with maths without a South African Council for Educators registration. It’s illegal.”