Newzroom Afrika presenter Gugulethu Mhlungu reached out to Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on Thursday morning to ask whether the department is aware of how two pupils were “chased away” from Makhoarane Primary in Dobsonville, Soweto, reportedly because “their unemployed mother couldn’t buy them shoes”.
This follows a story in The Star on Thursday morning that a 10 and 12-year-old boy were “thrown” out of school by the principle for wearing takkies, subsequently missing their Grade 5 and Grade 6 exams.
The publication reports that 41-year-old Sharon Bill is an unemployed single mother raising the two children as well as four others, who says she can’t afford the shoes and had a plan to buy new school shoes, telling the children to wear the takkies in the meanwhile as their school shoes were worn.
The article makes it clear that the Gauteng department of education is aware of the situation, and has launched an investigation, with spokesperson Steve Mabona saying the family has been engaged with and that a plan has been made to get them back to school. They will be given an opportunity to write the missed exams.
Mhlungu’s tweet had gained significant traction by the time of publication, including a retweet from Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema.
Some of those who reacted expressed the view that the story was “shocking” and “sad”.
Not everyone was sympathetic however, with several users questioning why the mother could afford to buy takkies, which may have been a similar price or more expensive than the school shoes.
It is explained in the article that the mother had sent the children to school with takkies she bought in December last year and was in the process of trying to acquire the funds to buy them new school shoes.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)