20 September 2022
Geluksdal Secondary School in Ekurhuleni remained closed on Monday after parents and community members shut down the school on Friday. They are demanding that the principal and a School Governing Board member be fired for failing to keep discipline and mismanaging the school.
This follows weeks of mounting tensions in the school over allegations of ill discipline, substance abuse and race-based gang fights.
Last month, we reported that a grade 12 learner was assaulted by a group of a dozen adults, apparently taxi drivers, who also fired gunshots in the air around the school.
An incident on Thursday last week prompted the shutdown on Friday. A 14-year-old coloured learner was said to have been assaulted by a large group of black learners, and his older brother stabbed in the back when he tried to intervene.
“The school will remain closed until these issues have been resolved,” said Devon van Wyk, a community representative.
He said, “We are tired because nothing is being done and there is a safety threat facing our children.”
He said they wanted the principal suspended “until investigations are completed”, because “she is failing to put proper disciplinary measures in place”.
“Previous principals were able to discipline students,” he said.
According to Van Wyk, parents and community members have been going to the school every day since August to help discipline students. He said this has resulted in quarrels between parents, community members and school staff.
The school is located in what is historically a predominantly coloured area. Several learners told GroundUp they want to leave the school because of racial tensions. Learners said fights are common, between coloured student gangs called Guydo and Boef and a black gang called Izinja.
“It feels as if we are in apartheid while at school,” said one.
“Drug dealing is done before our eyes. We see gangs fighting and nothing is being done. Some of them cause problems to the extent that some teachers no longer come to class,” said another learner.
A former student who left the school in 2017 said while race-based gangs were already an issue during his time, it was under control. He said things appear to have worsened over the years.
But the department came to the defence of the principal and stopped just short of denying there were racial tensions among learners.
Steve Mabona, spokesperson for the Gauteng provincial education department, said, “The department is aware of the ongoing disruptions of education by some members of the community”, and that “there were racial undertones from some members of the community that in the three schools in Geluksdal there is no coloured principal”.
“The department can also confirm that there were fights amongst learners. However, they have not been reported as race related fights.”
“According to our records there is more than hundred cases of disciplinary hearing involving learners in 2022, which is an evidence that the principal of the said school deals with ill-discipline and refer to SGB Disciplinary Committee in the school. However, there was none on gangsterism that was reported.”
He said the department has never received any report of drug selling at the school.
Zodwa Mahlangu, a parent, said, “There is a serious lack of discipline in the school. Students dress as they please and they disrespect teachers. The teachers are even afraid of the students. Surely the department of education should look into these issues?”