The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Limpopo said it is deeply concerned that the Limpopo Department of Education (LDOE) and MEC for Education, Polly Boshielo, have not addressed serious allegations of child sexual abuse, nepotism and a myriad of other issues at Burgersfort Laerskool.
The party alleged parents’ complaints have fallen on deaf ears and they have been left to their own devices.
During an engagement with parents of learners at the school, they raised allegations centered around several issues:
- The principal’s alleged knowledge of and protection of an educator who was accused of sexually abusing learners at the school.
- Nepotism at the school, especially in the employment of staff at the school (the principal’s wife, son-in-law and two daughters all reportedly employed at the school)
- Parents claim an educator accused of child sexual abuse at the school committed suicide on the school premises but no form of counselling was offered to learners.
- Parents have reason to believe that some of the educators at the school are not appropriately qualified to teach learners. There is also a high attrition rate among the teaching staff and the impact it has on learner’s performance is dire.
- Failure by LDOE officials at circuit and district level to address issues at the school.
- Unfair treatment of learners at the school e.g. English medium learners taught on a rotational basis, while Afrikaans medium learners attend class daily.
- Lack of accountability and transparency around school funds raised through fundraising activities and parent involvement.
“After the meeting with the parents, the DA wrote a letter to Boshielo, but to no avail. The letter requested that the principal is suspended to allow for a thorough and unencumbered investigation into the serious allegations.
“We also asked that the department investigate claims of learners being treated unequally, nepotism in the appointment of educators, inappropriately qualified educators and an abuse of power by the principal at the school. Counselling should also be offered to learners who need it,” said DA’s Risham Maharaj
He added, “It is unacceptable that parents claim to have been raising these issues from as far back as 2016 and have been met by an unresponsive and nonchalant attitude by the department. This goes against one of the department’s main objectives of maximizing accountability.”
The DA called on Boshielo and her department to urgently investigate these serious matters and suspend the principal for the duration of the investigation.
“The school can no longer be considered a safe environment if parents have no faith in the school’s leadership to take care of their children.”
The DA believes that the department has a responsibility to ensure that learners have a safe school environment, where their right to basic education is ensured.
In September, the spokesperson for the Limpopo Department of Education, Tidimalo Chuene assured this publication that investigations are continuing into the cases.
“The allegations are serious and worrying. There is no way that the department will allow any cover up in these matters.
The department indicated that the matter has also been referred to its legal services department.