Two parents are recovering from injuries they received during a protest march to their children’s school last week. The parents claim they were stabbed by the caretaker when they tried to prevent the principal from entering the school on Tuesday morning last week.About 20 parents marched to the Luleka Primary school in Harare, Khayelitsha, accusing principal, Gcobani Mthoba of harassment, beating children and not communicating with parents after he suspended the School Governing Body chairperson without informing them.
The parents gathered at the school gates and tried to block Mthoba from entering the school premises.
As a result, Mthoba called senior caretaker Mhlophe Gantso and ordered him to open the gates, although the protesting parents warned Gantso not to let Mthoba in until officials from the Department of Education arrived.
Gantso didn’t listen to the parents’ demands, and a fight broke out as he tried to force the gates open.
According to an eye witness, when parents tried to stop the principal from entering the school, Gantso rushed to the gate and tried to push it open from the inside.
“But the parents were singing and didn’t want to move,” said the eyewitness, “that’s when he pulled his knife and stabbed one woman on her hand.”
The woman, Siziwe Sowanzi, apparently backed away into the road and was hit by a passing car.
They eyewitness claims Gantso them pushed another woman who was holding a baby, and then kicked her when she fell.
Both women were taken to hospital.
Recovering with a bandaged leg and figure in her home, Sowanzi said: “Mthoba doesn’t listen to us as parents. He does what ever he wants and doesn’t take our advice. As parents we decided to take action. We locked the school gate and ordered the Mthoba to call Department of Education. Instead of doing that he called his bull dog to stab us.”
Sowanzi said they did not want a fight, they just wanted him to call the education department so their complaints could be dealt with.
“I have four stitches in my figure and small cut in my breast. I hardly walk because I was hit by a car when I was running (away).”
But Gantso said he didn’t stab anyone.
“The principal called me to open a front gate. When I got there some woman were protesting saying they don’t want the principal. When I opened the gate they pushed it then I fell with it. When I stood up one woman was holding knife. I grabbed the knife, that’s when she got cut on her hand. They started to throw stones at me, I had to fight back, that’s when I kicked one woman then she fell.”
Principal Mthoba said he could not comment on the matter.
“Anyone who wants a comment must call the department of education,” he said.
Western Cape Education Department director of communications, Paddy Attwell, said department officials were investigating the reasons behind the dispute between certain parents and the principal.
”Our information is that the caretaker found the school gates closed with padlocks and chains early on Tuesday morning. A scuffle broke out between the caretaker and a group claiming to be parents who wanted to stop him from opening the gates.”
Attwell said the caretaker had to be taken to hospital for treatment of head injuries after the group threw bricks at him.
He said the caretaker had denied stabbing anyone and claimed one of the parents had pulled a knife. “Police later dispersed the group. District officials are investigating further and will assist the school in addressing the issues concerned.”
Harare police spokesperson Nosiphiwo Mtengwane confirmed the incident. She said two cases of assault had been opened, one by Sowanzi and one by Gantso who claimed he was beaten with stones. No arrests have been made. – Nombulelo Damba, West Cape News