Protest over food

Jan 26, 2011

SCHOOLING at the Grace and Hope Elsen School for mentally handicapped children in Seshego, near Polokwane, came to a halt yesterday when lessons were temporarily suspended.

The provincial department of education suspended lessons after pupils went on the rampage on Monday, breaking the windowpanes of most classrooms in protest against the “poor” quality of food.

The pupils were also enraged by the arrest of a member of the support staff who was accused of failing to obey the principal’s orders.

The situation at the school became tense on Monday when police came to arrest the staffer. Angry pupils started throwing stones and breaking windows in protest against the arrest.

A teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed yesterday that parents were taking their children home as ordered by school management.

Provincial department of education spokesperson Pat Kgomo said the school would be temporarily closed this week while attempts were made to resolve the problem.

“We have studied the pupils’ complaints and are dealing with the matter,” Kgomo said.

He said it was unfortunate that the pupils had resorted to violence.

According to the teacher the principal of the school had summoned the police to arrest a member of the support staff after he had shown his displeasure at the way the school was being run.

“We were taken by surprise when the police arrived and arrested the person,” the teacher said. “I believe that could have contributed to angering the pupils.

“We are, however, going into a meeting to get clarity on the matter,” the teacher, who claimed the principal was ruling the school with an iron fist, said.

The principal, identified as Mmabore Ngoatje, is said to be untouchable. She refused to comment yesterday and referred enquiries to Kgomo.

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