Schweizer-Reneke teacher is returning to work, suspension declared unlawful!

The suspension of Elana Barkhuizen – a teacher at Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke – has been declared unlawful in the Labour Court in Johannesburg.


Elana Barkhuizen found herself at the centre of a racial twitter storm recently, after a photograph taken on the first day of school showcased a group of black Grade R children sitting at a separate table from a group of white students.

Barkhuizen said at a press conference on Tuesday, 15 January 2019, that she had taken many pictures and sent it to at the parent-teacher chat group but also followed up that she would not take this “lying down”.

“People that know me say that I am a good teacher. People who know me fight to have their children in my classroom. People who know me know that I put my whole heart into my work for my learners.

My job is not politics, but teaching.

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 but don’t be sorry for me – I will not surrender.

I will fight!

I will make sure that was happened to me, will never happen to any other teacher. I owe that to my own class, my colleagues and every child in South Africa who needs good teachers.

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

I am a good teacher.”

Barkhuizen then explained in an affidavit that she had done this for practical reasons and that the all children were moved around the classroom during the day to interact with each other, but she was accused of being a racist and was suspended soon after the incident by the MEC of Education in North West Sello Lehari.

More pictures quickly started surfacing online showing how the kids in the classroom had actually been moved around and were all interacting with each other, but whoever distributed the original photo had conveniently left these out.

Barkhuizen decided to then file court papers alleging that her suspension was factually flawed, she argued that she should not have been suspended because she was not the teacher who separated the pupils, adding that she was never given an opportunity to correct the misinformation.

And on Thursday 24 January 2018, Judge Connie Prinsloo said in her Judgment that it was illegal for the MEC to suspend the teacher as she is not employed by the Department of Education, the court also ordered that Barkhuizen return to work immediately.

“For every step, for every day for every part of this journey… I don’t know how to thank everyone. And to everyone at Solidarity thank you very much, I appreciate it from my heart. Justice was done, ” Elana Barkhuizen said after the judgment.

Solidarity says it will be meeting with the school governing body to discuss Barkhuizen’s return to school.

Sources: News24
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