Parents rally around ousted teacher

Ousted Rustenburg Girls’ Junior School teacher Nozipho Mthembu
Ousted Rustenburg Girls’ Junior School teacher Nozipho Mthembu
Image: Esa Alaxander/Sunday Times

Parents from Rustenburg Girls’ Junior School have rallied behind its first black teacher, who was constructively dismissed‚ claiming that the alleged racism that forced her out was just the tip of the iceberg.

The group of parents‚ calling themselves Parents for Change‚ said: “There are numerous unspoken issues of racism‚ discrimination and humiliation at the school.

“The principal‚ school management team and the school governing body have chosen to turn a blind eye.”

They were responding to reports claiming that the school‚ one of the leading public schools in Cape Town‚ discriminated against Nozipho Mthembu, 26.

The first black class teacher at the school went to the CCMA demanding compensation following consistently unpleasant treatment.

She alleged that not only did the school single her out for a “mentorship programme” which left her more traumatised than supported‚ its principal, Di Berry, and school governing body chair, Gavin Downward, gave her an ultimatum to resign or face disciplinary action that would “ruin her reputation”.

The school told her that parents questioned her competency, she said.

Parents for Change‚ who have organised themselves to fight against alleged racism at the school‚ criticised Western Cape education MEC Debbie Schafer’s handling of the incident‚ saying on Monday that “it is driven by a political imperative‚ rather than addressing the real issues of creating schools where all children can belong and enjoy equal opportunity”.

Schafer said on Sunday that Mthembu had “resigned after ongoing legitimate concerns that were raised with her. Out of respect for her privacy‚ these have not been disclosed”.

“The admission of wrongdoing by the school at the CCMA was because of issues of procedure regarding the process followed.

“SGBs are not experts in HR processes – not because of racism‚” she said.- TimesLIVE