The march by the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) to Hoërskool Overvaal yesterday has called into question the union’s real motives. SADTU claims to seek to improve our schooling system, yet demands that schools be closed whenever the union deems fit.
The school was forced to close yesterday to avoid any harm coming to learners. It appears that SADTU involved children and learners in their march, which is illegal. SADTU is only comfortable using the language of threat and fear.
I have therefore made a further submission to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), which is investigating a series of alleged human rights infringements by the union.
Our initial complaint, submitted in 2015, was supplemented with additional evidence in May last year and is currently being investigated by the Head of Legal Services for the Commission. Today’s submission will add to the overwhelming evidence that SADTU places its own interests before the rights of children.
Furthermore, protesters sang songs that constitute hate speech and engaged in physical skirmishes with police officers who were attempting to protect the school. I have attached the video evidence to my submission, as well as photographs of the protest.
Throughout the past week, threats have been made by protesters and supporters on social media to burn the school down or shoot the school’s learners. To terrorise school children in this manner is despicable and criminal.
Where is MEC Panyaza Lesufi? He deliberately turned this dispute into a media circus in an attempt to get away with under-resourcing schools. Specifically, he has not provided enough school teachers to teach every subject in both English and Afrikaans. Now that the right of learners to a basic education is being denied and the safety of children is being threatened, he is nowhere to be found.
It is high time that the MEC spend less time posing for the cameras and pulling PR stunts, and more time addressing the appalling resourcing problems facing schools in his province.
The DA pleads with all parties involved in this dispute and the resulting protests to remember that children’s rights are of paramount importance. The way to address schooling issues is through open, honest and constructive engagements. We hope to see this matter resolved with urgency as we should not have our children away from the classroom for a day longer.