People have reacted with outrage to a photo on the homepage of the Somerset West Private School, which shows three pupils doing the “Nazi salute”.
The principal of the school has since denied the pose is a Nazi salute, instead inferring that it is a “Roman salute”.
The image, which was taken down shortly after News24 sent an enquiry to the school on Wednesday morning, was of the 2018 matric class.
It has been replaced by a similar class photo with more formal poses.
The school opened its doors in 1998. On its website, under vision and mission, the school lists the values of empowerment, transparency and integrity, excellence, ubuntu, and innovation.
It states: “We provide staff, parents, and learners with an environment which nurtures social, academic, and spiritual strength. Within our intense focus on the development of accountability, responsibility, and respect in addition to the recognition and acceptance of individuality and diversity, we allow learners to embrace their own perfection and brilliance.”
Under integrity, it states: “Ethical and respectful behaviour is expected of everyone and it is vital in the development of valuable members of society who have the ability to respond in compassionate ways towards others.”
In response to questions from News24, Principal Morné Coetzer said: “Somerset West Private School’s primary objective is to maximise the academic achievement of its learners. We do not promote or support any particular political or religious views. Learners are encouraged to develop as individuals, think freely and to express themselves freely, provided that such expression does not impair the dignity of others.
“It has come to our attention that there have been objections to a matric photo where some learners give what appears to be a Roman salute. While we don’t believe that the learners intended to offend anyone, we have removed the photograph from the website.”