‘Roodepoort primary pupils can no longer be held at ransom’

David Makhura says pupils will be transported to other schools on Monday while the mediation continues.

FILE: The Gauteng premier and Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi hosted the talks in the hope of finding a solution to the ongoing disruptions, which has seen the principal’s car petrol-bombed. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Premier David Makhura says the pupils of Roodepoort Primary School can no longer be held at ransom by community members who he says are to blame for the disruptions at the school.

Makhura sent a strong message to them at an imbizo held at the school last night where he announced he's closing down the school on Monday until peace is restored.

The Gauteng premier and Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi hosted the talks in the hope of finding a solution to the ongoing disruptions, which has seen the principal's car petrol-bombed.

Makhura started off the evening by giving community members a choice: either the disruptions stop or Roodepoort primary closes.

"If there's no normality on Monday, we will take all the learners to the other schools."

And after some jeering from the crowd which included some members shouting racial slurs, Makhura gave his final ruling.

"They continue to disrupt this school, on Monday we are closing down this school."

He says community members will have to work with a mediation team to iron out their differences.

But Makhura says pupils are far behind on their work for the year and their learning can no longer be disrupted for what he called "adult fights".

Children will be transported to other schools on Monday while the mediation continues.

Makhura says he will establish an intervention programme for the pupils of who he says are months behind on their work.

"We are going to put together a special intervention programme to support these children to catch up."

He says the Gauteng Education Department has done everything in its power to resolve their grievances including meetings and two forensic investigations at the community's request.

But one community members says Makhura should have done more and was angry with his decision to close the school.

"He comes here after 14 months, he knew there were problems at the school, but he comes at the last minute."

Makhura says community members must be reminded that they are all South Africans and educators cannot be appointed based on race but rather on their abilities to teach.

Meanwhile, Lesufi says the department has met with the community 33 times in 11 months to try stabilize the Roodepoort school, but an urgent intervention is still needed.

"But if you check the syllabus covered by children at Roodepoort Primary School, it stands at April and May but we are in August. A clear indication that our children are not ready to sit for the annual national assessment."