“It’s a full-blown colour war.” This was all Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi could say to describe the crisis paralysing Roodepoort Primary School.
On Tuesday, the row over his appointment of Nomathemba Molefe as principal spilt over into a fist fight between angry parents from the mostly coloured community and a black official from the Gauteng Department of Education.
On Monday, Lesufi had vowed to close down the school permanently if teachers continued to be threatened with violence by parents.
Black teachers have stayed away from school for a week, unprepared to subject themselves to either the intimidation or the risk to their lives. The school has already been shut down twice.
Given an ultimatum to return on Tuesday morning, they didn’t.
Angry parents thronged the reception area, swearing and cursing at the staff. They were incensed at being accused of arson attacks at the school, including a recent petrol bombing of the deputy principal’s car and firebombing the offices of the principal and her deputy.
“We won’t burn the school down, we built it ourselves,” the enraged group shouted at the official.
Black teachers have refused to report for duty for fear of being assaulted by members of the local coloured community.