Grosvenor Girls’ High school principal and her deputy have “structurally” and “systematically” institutionalised racism at the school, an independent panel has found.
The panel, appointed by KZN Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu earlier this year, investigated allegations of racism, nepotism and financial irregularities at the school.
It found a general feeling among the African support staff that they are not treated with respect, dignity, and courtesy by the school management because of their race, and the discriminatory and inhumane treatment came from both White and Indian members of management.
At the preliminary stages of the investigation, the panel, led by Adv Vusi Khuzwayo (SC), Adv Makhosini Nkosi as evidence leader, Dr Nontobeko Buthelezi, (an educational psychologist), and attorney Jackie Pretorius-Bishop, recommended that the school principal be placed on precautionary suspension to facilitate an ease of investigation.
The panel was initially given 21 days to complete the investigation, but the timeframe was extended to allow due justice in completing the report.
Addressing the media at the Public Works department in Mayville on Monday, Mshengu said they were satisfied with the outcomes of the investigation and that the panel’s recommendations will all be implemented.
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He said the panel received evidence from former and current pupils, members of the teaching staff, general school workers, School Governing Body (SGB) members and parents.
“Historical accounts of disruptions within the school during the period 2017 to 2022 were uncovered. These accounts included allegations of racial prejudice, discrimination, dehumanisation, and financial irregularities. No action was ever taken.
“The investigation has found that racism at this school is systematic, structural and that white authority dominates all facets at the school.
“It also found that racism is normalised and that it is second nature, that black people, both learners and employees at the school, suffer in an atmosphere of being suppressed, oppressed and of being voiceless,” said Mshengu.
He said the report listed a litany of instances where the principal has used derogatory, discriminatory, and dehumanising language when dealing with race-related issues.
The principal speaks disparagingly of ‘township schools’ and does not hide her prejudice against schools in the township. Evidence was provided where the principal constantly shouted at African learners reminding them that Grosvenor Girls’ High is not a township school, and they must go back to these township schools. Educators are told to recruit more white learners because the school belongs to white learners
On financial irregularities, Mshengu said in 2018 a recommendation was made to investigate mismanagement of R3,4 million at the school. He said internal investigators on the matter issued a preliminary report on findings of improper use of school funds, non-compliance with policies, lack of co-operation with the then SGB, principal committing financial mismanagement and recommended further forensic investigation.
The panel recommended that the department review all appointments made by the principal as well as the contracts she signed with the affected employees and all those found to have been employed without meeting basic requirements be fired.
It was also recommended that the principal and her deputy should be held liable for all funds paid to any employee who would be found to have been employed into a position without meeting basic requirements, and the principal must be charged with misconduct in relation to racism, irregular appointments of employees and financial irregularities.