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Media Release

4 June, 2007

WCED condemns intimidation, assault and disruption of examinations by striking teachers

Western Cape Education MEC Cameron Dugmore and the Head of Department Ron Swartz today reacted with outrage and condemnation on learning that a group of about 30 striking teachers disrupted examinations, confiscated and tore up scripts and manhandled a female learner by grabbing her around the neck.

About 30 striking teachers visited the Malibu Secondary School in Blue Downs today (Monday, 4 June 2007) and asked the principal if they could speak to members of the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU). The striking teachers are not staff members at the school.

While waiting for the principal to arrange the meeting, members of the visiting group entered the school hall where Grade 11 and 12 learners were writing Geography and Maths examinations respectively.

The striking teachers then demanded examination papers and scripts and proceeded to confiscate and tore up some of the scripts. One of the group manhandled a female learner who refused to hand over her script, grabbing her around the neck, according to our report from the school. The parents of the girl have told the school that they will lodge a formal complaint.

The school abandoned the examinations and reported the incident to the Metrople East District office of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED).

The circuit manager went to the school immediately on learning of the incident and found the learners traumatised. The district office will send school psychologists to the school tomorrow (Tuesday, 5 June 2007) to assess the situation and provide counseling where necessary.

The group of striking teachers moved on to Kleinvlei Secondary School in Eerste River where the principal refused to allow them onto the school premises.

Said MEC Dugmore: "I am absolutely appalled by this incident and am calling on the union leadership to take strong disciplinary steps against the members involved. They must also ensure that there is no occurrence of similar acts of intimidation and violence against any learner or teacher.

"We acknowledge the right of unions and their members, to embark on industrial action, which is legally protected. At the same, teachers and learners who want to continue with learning and teaching, are also protected."

Mr Swartz, Head of Education said: "This kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable. We condemn this incident in the strongest possible terms.

"We will look at ways of holding the union responsible for the behaviour of its members. We will investigate fully with a view to disciplinary action, especially the teacher or teachers who allegedly manhandled a learner.

"Any form of intimidation is unacceptable. To intimidate and assault learners is unforgivable."

For enquiries, contact Gert Witbooi:  082 550 3938, or gwitbooi@pgwc.gov.za.

Issued by:
Gert Witbooi
Media Liaison Officer
Office of the MEC for Education
Western Cape
Tel: 021 467 2523
Fax: 021 425 5689

Visit our website: http://wced.wcape.gov.za

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