The Economic Freedom Fighters has called for the dismissal of Elana Barkhuizen, the teacher at the centre of the racism storm in Schweizer-Reneke, North West. In a statement today, the party called on the South African Council of Educators (SACE) to revoke her licence and not permit her to teach in South Africa.
“This act singles [out] the teacher as an anti-black racist who should not be educating any of South Africa’s children. We call on the school to dismiss the teacher to demonstrate that anti-black racism does not belong in our classrooms. The country must show zero tolerance to anti-black racism, particularly when executed on innocent and unsuspecting children,” it said.
It further called on the department of basic education to appoint a special unit to monitor private schools.
“There are grounds to believe that these schools continue to perpetuate racial discrimination throughout the schooling years of children and learners. To dismantle this, there must be constant visits, surveys and interviews to monitor anti-black racism in schools.”
Barkhuizen was accused of being racist after a picture depicting four black children seated at a corner, separated from 18 white children in the Grade R class, went viral on social media on Wednesday.
The teacher reportedly sent the picture to parents in a WhatsApp group showing them that the children were settled well on their first day at school.
Those close to the matter told the site that she was not guilty of anything other than taking the photo of black and white children sitting at different desks, and then sending it to a parents’ WhatsApp group.
One person said it had not even been her classroom.
In a statement on Thursday the school said the photo was “a reflection of a single moment in a classroom”, and not an indication of school policy.
They also explained that the photo reflected an isolated moment and the children do in fact interact and are integrated. Other photos have since emerged showing an integrated classroom on the same day, though it may be that these photos were taken only after the outrage began on Wednesday.
“Schweizer-Reneke Primary School is proud of its integrated character. The school’s ethos is built on inclusivity as a reflection of the broader South African society,” said the school governing body’s chairperson, Jozeph du Plessis.