Suspended Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke teacher to address media

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RUSTENBURG, January 15 – Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke teacher Elana Barkhuizen, suspended after a picture of her class showing black learners separated from their white counterparts went viral and caused an outcry, is expected to address the media on Tuesday.

Trade union Solidarity said Barkhuizen would make a brief statement in Afrikaans in the capital Pretoria, but would neither take questions nor grant interviews.

North West Education MEC Sello Lehari suspended her last Thursday after a parent of one of the black pupils in the Grade R class complained.

Barkhuizen reportedly took the picture and sent it to a parents’ Whatsapp group to reassure them that their children were coping well with their first day of school.

The picture went viral on social media and led to a protest at the school.

Solidarity said it would take legal action to lift Barkhuizen’s suspension, which it said was unlawful.

“Lehari’s hasty and populist actions led to Barkhuizen’s unlawful suspension while being innocent,” Solidarity chief executive Dr Dirk Hermann said.

“Had he listened to the other side he would have reached a different conclusion. However, he charged and convicted her in ‘bundu court’ fashion in the presence of a worked-up crowd.” (ANA)