AfriForum welcomes the Solidarity trade union’s decision to support Elana Barkhuizen with legal aid after she was suspended illegally last Wednesday after the 2019 school year commenced. The actions of the North West’s Department of Education came after a class photo – that she took of someone else’s class – had spread like wildfire on social media.
According to Dr Dirk Hermann, Chief Executive of Solidarity, a brilliant, well-loved teacher was vilified overnight by a kangaroo court. “Elana Barkhuizen, appointed by the school’s governing body, is well-known for her kind heart and the sandwiches that she daily brought to school for all hungry children – regardless of their race. Moreover, she was suspended illegally, as she is not employed by the MEC or government.”
“AfriForum is grateful that Solidarity helped a modest, vulnerable teacher today after government, political parties and social media took an innocent photo out of context and labelled it blatant racism,” says Carien Bloem, AfriForum’s Project Coordinator for Education. “Not only were small children affected by this traumatic incident, but an innocent teacher’s reputation and image were sullied.”
AfriForum’s community safety structures patrol the area around the school every day to monitor the situation and ensure the safety of the school, learners and teachers.
AfriForum Community Safety also provided support to the school during this racism storm and suspension. “AfriForum Community Safety will become involved with our members in towns and schools to help safeguard our communities and schools,” says Ian Cameron, Head of Community Safety at AfriForum.
Solidarity will this week bring an urgent court application against the MEC and others involved to bring to book the injustice against Barkhuizen.
Barkhuizen read a statement in which she emphasised her commitment to her job, learners and school. “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 will make sure that what happened to me will never happen to any other teacher.”