'I will clear my name': Schweizer-Reneke teacher plans legal action with union

Suspended Schweizer-Reneke teacher Elana Barkhuizen at a joint press conference with Solidarity trade union on recent events at the town’s primary school.
Suspended Schweizer-Reneke teacher Elana Barkhuizen at a joint press conference with Solidarity trade union on recent events at the town’s primary school.
Image: Alon Skuy

The Solidarity trade union is set to serve court papers before the end of the week asking that the “unlawful” suspension of Schweizer-Reneke teacher Elana Barkhuizen be lifted as a matter of urgency.

The union told a news conference on Tuesday it believed she had been a victim of high emotions which overlooked the truth.

“We are focusing on restoring her human dignity so that we do not lose an outstanding teacher‚” said the union. 

According to Solidarity chief executive Dr Dirk Hermann‚ North West education MEC Sello Lehari’s “hasty and populist actions” led to Barkhuizen’s unlawful suspension while being innocent.

Had he listened to the other side Lehari would have reached a different conclusion‚ Solidarity claimed. “However‚ he charged and convicted her in bundu-court fashion in the presence of a worked-up crowd‚” Hermann said.

Barkhuizen wept as she began reading a prepared statement‚ stating her commitment to teaching.

Elana Barkhuizen‚ the teacher at the centre of the racism storm at a North West primary school‚ held a joint media briefing with Solidarity in Pretoria on Tuesday, January 15 2018 where she released a statement about the viral photo that led to her suspension, and announced her intention to fight back.

The uproar over the alleged segregation left “traumatised children crying and looking at me for consolation and me trying to calm them down while my life is being destroyed‚” she said.

“I do not know what the people who tried to ruin my life wanted to achieve. I just know that I had to stand and watch powerlessly how I was being judged from a stage. I had to endure insults and I was told that I may never teach again. I had to watch how people who have never met me tell me that they know exactly who I am. How they dragged my good name through the mud and then kept on kicking me while I was down just for the fun of it.

“I will not be told what my worth is by people who do not know me. I will embark on this journey. I will clear my name. I will take on these people with power and I shall win.

“I am a good teacher. I am also not alone. Thank you to all the people – black and white – in my community and nationally who sent me a message or a prayer.

“Do not be sorry for me – I will not surrender. I will fight. I will make sure that what happened to me will never happen to any other teacher. I owe it to my own class‚ my colleagues and every child in South Africa who needs good teachers‚” Barkhuizen said. 

More to follow shortly

 

 

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