The words of Judge Connie Prinsloo, in the Labour Court this week, need be digested by all South Africans. Racism, she said, “needs to be eradicated, but not be searched for where there is none to be found”.
Her remarks came as she ordered the reinstatement and return to work of primary school teacher Elana Barkhuizen, who was pilloried by all and sundry as a racist after she posted a photograph on a WhatsApp group of children in a classroom at the Schweizer-Reneke primary school.
The photo showed four black children sitting on their own, away from the white kids in the class.
Barkhuizen was immediately suspended by the North West MEC for education Sello Lehari, who also accused her of being a racist.
The reality was that Barkhuizen’s only crime was posting the photo and that the separation was in a class run by another teacher.
While the investigation into the incident needs to play out, the media and public witch-hunt on Barkhuizen shows how fake news can spread with the speed and destructive force of a wildfire.
Sadly, people’s lives can be reduced to ashes by the false allegations in these conflagrations.
The moral: check the facts are straight.