This is completely unacceptable. We cannot allow our principals to be treated like this. We strongly condemn this behaviour – Panyazi Lesufi
Pretoria – Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi, on Thursday slammed the parents who literally threw Laerskool Theresapark principal Dorothy Mabaso out of her office.
“This is completely unacceptable. We cannot allow our principals to be treated like this. We strongly condemn this behaviour,” Lesufi said.
“We are investigating the allegations that have been levelled against the principal and school governing body. We will communicate the outcome once the investigations are concluded.
“We must express our disappointment at the scenes of violence and intimidation at the said school that we witnessed on video clips shared with us this morning. Indeed it is unfortunate that parents resorted to such conduct in a school environment, exposing our children to such unpalatable behaviour.
“Furthermore, we would like to implore parents to address their grievances amicably without disrupting teaching and learning at the school as it is difficult to recover lost teaching time,” the MEC said.
The parents accused Mabaso of mistreating staff members. According to them, her alleged victims eventually quit their jobs. They also accused her of running the school into financial ruin.
Chanting parents went to the school in the morning and after invading the principal’s office, lifted Mabaso who was seated on her leather chair.
They carried her outside, where she eventually jumped off the chair and fell flat on her face, hitting the ground with her arms, stomach and legs.
Police from Pretoria North and Tshwane Metro Police Department were called in after the principal refused to leave. She had returned to her office and locked herself in.
The parents argued with the police, insisting that they would not leave until Mabaso either resigned, or was moved elsewhere by the Department of Education, which had promoted her to principal in 2019.
A parent, Tumi Ekaneng, said they were tired because Mabaso was “a monster boss and created a toxic working environment” for other educators.
He said: “From the moment she took over the administration of the school, she began cancelling educational events without particular reasons, and we started seeing other educators leaving the school.
“There was unhappiness at the school from the teachers who are being shouted at on a daily basis. They do not know what is right and what is wrong at this point, and all they want to do is to protect themselves and not be on the wrong side of the school principal.
“I think the biggest concern for teachers is losing good teachers who cannot be replaced. I mean, we can’t lose 12 teachers in three months, and that is what happened here.
“Furthermore, the ones that are remaining are afraid to act in leadership roles such as heads of departments.”
The parent said from an academic point of view, learners were falling behind. The school principal was also accused of not wanting to engage the parents and the governing body, and ignoring memoranda until recently.
Said Ekaneng: “We are not firing her, we did not fire her, she was hired by the Department of Education, but we need her out of the school. We want a suitable school principal who will work well with the SGB (school governing body) and parents, and do what is best in line with the traditions of the school.”
The parents also claimed that the school seemed to be running into financial problems, and it seemed there was financial mismanagement. They said even the previous SGB
experienced multiple resignations as well.
They admitted that perhaps carrying the principal out of her office by her chair may have been inappropriate because as she jumped to the ground she could have given the wrong impression that she was the victim, whereas she was the problem they needed to get rid off.
As the police stood watch there was an exchange between parents, some who confronted the rebel group and asked them to wait for intervention from the department from outside the school’s premises.
Police spokesperson sergeant Tsakani Miyen, who was at the scene, said the principal had not expressed interest in opening a case.
The circuit management team from the department’s district office was dispatched to the school to mediate the fracas as it was unfolding.
One local parent came to the school in a rush to fetch his daughter as the news broke.