MEC intervenes in case of 'coloured' teacher identifying as 'African'

Bobby Jordan Senior reporter
Glen Snyman has been summoned to a disciplinary hearing for claiming to be African instead of sticking with his 'official' coloured identity.
Glen Snyman has been summoned to a disciplinary hearing for claiming to be African instead of sticking with his 'official' coloured identity.
Image: People Against Race Classification / via Facebook

Western Cape education MEC Debbie Schäfer on Wednesday urgently requested information about the case of a teacher who faced possible dismissal for self-identifying as African.

Oudtshoorn teacher Glen Snyman identified himself as African in his CV when applying for a teaching post at a school three years ago.

SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE reported earlier in the day that he had been summoned to a disciplinary hearing for claiming to be “African” instead of sticking with his “official” coloured identity.

In its charge sheet the department initially accused Snyman of “fraudulently” passing himself off as an African male “whereas in truth your records indicate that you are a coloured male”. It accused him of misrepresenting his race to secure the new teaching post.

Snyman is a long-time critic of apartheid-era race classification and founder of lobby group People Against Race Classification.

The disciplinary hearing did not go ahead as scheduled on Wednesday.

News of the hearing appears to have taken senior officials by surprise, among them Schäfer.

“I have learnt only today of a WCED teacher who has allegedly been charged with 'fraud' for classifying himself as 'African' on his CV,” Schäfer said in a statement.

“One of the many evils of apartheid was the classification of people by their so-called race. This was what many people have fought to rid our country of. So I am understandably shocked to discover that my department is apparently charging someone because of how they choose to classify themselves.  

“If this is in fact the case, it is anathema to me. And we will not tolerate victimisation of people who do not conform to an artificial and arbitrary classification of who they are deemed to be.

“I have asked for all the information regarding this case as a matter of urgency because, on the face of it, it does not appear to be in line with what this administration stands for.”

Snyman’s case also drew comment from the EFF, which called on the department to stop its disciplinary action against the teacher.

“We would like to remind you of the fact that under the laws of the Republic of South African, Mr Snyman has the right to identify himself as African if he feels uncomfortable with being identified as coloured,” said EFF provincial chairperson Melikhaya Xego.

“We would also like to remind you of the negative psychological ramifications of apartheid classifications on people’s lives today. The department of education in the Western Cape is acting unethically and against the restorative spirit of the constitution for expecting himself to superimpose a classification that violates his right to self-identification.

“We also wish to remind you of the fact that your actions perpetuate apartheid mentality that our post-apartheid SA is trying to move away from and for that your action against Mr Snyman has no basis but is an attempt to undermine his human dignity.”


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