Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi has welcomed the decision by St John’s College to fire a teacher who was found guilty of misconduct in an internal hearing about a racist campaign against black, Indian and Greek students, as well as foreign students.
Lesufi said the teacher left the school with immediate effect on Friday, following his visit to the school earlier in the day.
The elite school in Houghton, Johannesburg was engulfed in a race crisis after the teacher was charged with bringing the school into disrepute; contravening the South African Council of Education’s code; and making racist remarks.
He was found guilty during the internal hearing and given a final written warning, but retained by the school.
The school’s spokesperson Jacqui Deeks told the media on Thursday although the educator had been found guilty, there were “mitigating circumstances which did not warrant dismissal”.
“St John’s College would like to emphasise that it takes allegations of racism and discrimination very seriously and we are vehemently opposed to bigotry in any form and will not tolerate racist actions,” Deeks said at the time.
Lesufi rejected the school’s position and called for the teacher to be fired. He then visited the school on Friday morning to give the school an opportunity to redeem itself.
During his meeting with the school’s management, Lesufi demanded that the school dismiss the teacher before 1pm on Friday and said legal action would be taken if it failed to do so.
“The MEC said the final written warning was unsatisfactory considering the seriousness of the charges and the guilty finding against the educator,” the department said.
Following the meeting, Lesufi met the representatives of the Independent Schools Association of South Africa (ISASA) to discuss the issues facing the private education sector.
“It was agreed that a summit would be facilitated in September 2017 to deal in detail with all issues affecting private and independent schools in particular. A date for the summit will be announced in due course,” he said.
He said all schools, whether they fell under the public or private sector, could not have codes of conduct which contravened the country’s Constitution.
“We will deal with racism decisively and not give racists space to breath because non-racialism is non-negotiable,” Lesufi said.