A major battle along racial lines has erupted at a school in a small Eastern Cape town after a merger of two schools – one catering to coloured pupils and the other to black pupils.
Opened less than two weeks ago by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and costing R25-million, Thornhill Combined School is already experiencing difficulties, with some parents having expressed unhappiness over the appointment of its principal.
And the parents warned that, should the controversy not be resolved, they would burn down the school.
Xhosa-speaking parents living at a nearby informal settlement are upset with the Department of Education for appointing Mike Aweries as the new principal.
They say Shumikazi Sibhozo, who was the principal at their children’s former school, has been sidelined despite being the “brains behind the new school”.
Two schools – Xhosa-medium Nomzamo Madikizela Mandela and Afrikaans-medium Thornhill Primary – were merged on April 15.
Aweries was appointed principal, but the Department of Education says the appointment is temporary.
The Afrikaans-speaking community last week said they did not have a problem with the principal or the merger, while their Xhosa counterparts took exception and urged the department not to impose these changes on them.