The DA calls for urgent intervention into Glenvista High school amid claims of assault, bullying and ill-discipline

The DA is calling on the Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi to urgently intervene and resolve a number of issues that are causing a continuous disruption of learning and teaching at Glenvista High School in Johannesburg.

Since the start of the 2022 school year, the school has been facing serious challenges of ill-discipline, fighting and bullying. Some learners have been undergoing disciplinary hearings for bullying the Grade 8 learners after forcing them to do push -ups. A video of this bullying incident went viral on social media.

In another incident, former learners were allowed onto the school premises where they assaulted a learner as well as two other learners and two teachers who tried to stop the assault. A case of assault and trespassing has been opened at Mondeor Police Station.

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education, Khume Ramulifho MPL and the DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Education, Sergio Dos Santos MPL, conducted an oversight inspection at the school. They were shocked to witness several learners kicking, screaming hysterically and crying during a prayer session at the school following allegations of demon possession.

The parents of these learners were called to the school to fetch their children.

Furthermore, the School Governing Body (SGB) has been delaying the process of building four additional classrooms at the school to reduce overcrowding in the classrooms despite the funds for the new classrooms being transferred to the school account.

Parents of learners have expressed their concerns at to the continuous disruption of learning and teaching.

The DA believes that bullying and violence has no place at our schools which are meant to be safe places for all learners. We also call on the MEC to ensure that all these issues are addressed without delay to allow the learners to get the best possible education. We will continue to monitor the MEC’s intervention to ensure that schooling continues at Glenvista High School without any further disruptions.

Confusion around budget for the supply and delivery of meals to learners

In a written reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL), the MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi denied that his department had applied for a Covid-19 deviation for the period between the 26 March 2020 and 16 April 2020.

See reply here 

A deviation of the planned budget is the difference in costs between the planned baseline against the actual budget.

However, according to a recent presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Finance, the Department of Education had indeed applied for a deviation between the period of 26 March 2020 and 16 April 2020 for the supply and delivery of meals to learners.

See presentation here

The MEC in a reply in June denied that any deviations were applied for yet the presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Finance in April indicates that he did.

This is a clear indication that either the MEC does not know what is happening in his department or he is hiding the fact that the department has indeed applied for a deviation. Again, this shows that the MEC was not coping heading up two departments which includes the Department of Social Development.

It is high time that the MEC must concentrate on his department instead of leaving all the work to the officials.

The DA is calling on MEC Lesufi to come clean about the deviation that his department applied for, to ensure that everything is above board.

The DA is taking its oversight role very seriously especially with the emergency procurement instructions from National Treasury and will monitor departments to ensure that they spend money responsibly.

Did MEC Lesufi play a role in the awarding of a R30 million cyber security tender?

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng has learnt that the In2IT Technologies, one of the sponsors of the Moroka Swallows soccer club which is owned by MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi, has been awarded a R30 million cyber security tender.

The DA has been reliably informed that the MEC for Finance, Nomuntu Nkomo-Ralehoko requested permission from the national Minister for Communications and Digital Technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams to deviate from the normal procurement processes.

We have also been reliably informed that the company which won the tender was thoroughly prepared despite only having 24 hours to submit all the necessary documents.

It appears as if the Covid-19 pandemic was used to rush through the procurement process.

The DA calls on the Gauteng Premier, David Makhura to investigate whether proper procedures were followed in the awarding of this tender.

Should it be found that MEC Lesufi used his influence and position to help In2IT Technologies procure the tender, then the appropriate action should be taken against him and he must be removed from office.

Furthermore, the DA welcomes the swift action taken by Premier David Makhura to investigate the previous contract that was awarded for the outsourcing of its cyber security contract that led to irregular expenditure of over R100 million.

The DA will be closely monitoring the progress of the investigation into the cyber security contract and will also be tabling follow-up questions on the In2IT technologies tender.

DA calls on MEC Lesufi to resolve all admission appeals before schools reopen on 15 January

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng calls on the Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi to resolve the 2020 admission appeals as a matter of urgency.

There are hundreds of parents of Grade 1 and Grade 8 learners who have appealed to the department with regards to their children’s admissions for the 2020 school year but they have as yet received any responses from the department.

Replying to the DA oral questions in December, MEC Lesufi has committed to finalize all appeals within 21 days but this has not succeeded as there are more than 2000 learners who are still waiting for their appeals to be finalized.
The slow pace of the department in dealing with admission appeals is extremely frustrating for parents who do not know whether their children will be enrolled for the 2020 academic year.

Most of the parents that have submitted appeals have not yet started preparing their children for the reopening of schools on the 15 January as they don’t know the schools to which their children will be allocated.

The DA urges MEC Lesufi to work around the clock in finalising all admissions appeals before schools reopen so that parents can buy school uniforms and budget for their children’s transport.

We cannot have a situation whereby some learners do not start schooling with their peers on the first day of the academic year due to delays in the finalisation of admissions appeals.

The DA will be monitoring the process of the finalisation of all admissions appeals to ensure that all learners commence schooling when schools reopen.

DA does not back Panyaza Lesufi as Gauteng Education MEC

The Citizen article, 26 November 2019, “DA defends under-fire Gauteng education MEC Lesufi”, could not be further from the truth as my comments were taken out of context.

It is important to note that when speaking of irregular expenditure, it does not automatically imply that this is tantamount to corruption. And this is the point I made in my interview.

An example of irregular expenditure would be when a school needs extra supplies, such as desks and chairs that are not budgeted for but are purchased regardless of budget.

This purchase would defy Treasury Regulations and be classified as irregular expenditure, but it does not amount to corruption at face value unless an investigation proves that corruption was involved in the irregular expenditure

Therefore, the DA is not an applicant in Afriforum’s legal action against the MEC for this irregular expenditure.

As elected Members of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, we are mandated by voters to scrutinize the spend of public money and we will use the necessary legislative mechanisms at our disposal to do so.

However, MEC Lesufi is by no means a saint; under his watch:

  • Many schools have infrastructure which is in a dilapidated state and is in dire need of maintenance. There is also a shortage of classrooms, which is leading to overcrowding;
  • The MEC has failed to eradicate asbestos schools in the province. He is constantly promising to replace asbestos schools with brick and mortar schools but to date this has not yet materialised;
  • The safety of learners and the assets of our schools has been under threat for a while now, yet the MEC fails to put adequate safety and security measures in place;
  • Our schools have turned into war zones with learners taking weapons to schools;
  • In the 2018/2019 financial year the department failed to spend nearly R1 billion. In the previous year the department also failed to spend R1 billion and in both instances the money was sent back to Treasury.

It is high time MEC Lesufi is shown the door as it is clear now more than ever that he incapable of leading this department. He lacks the political will needed to implement the changes that he has been talking about for the last six years.

The DA will approach Gauteng Premier David Makhura through the correct legislative measures available to ensure that he releases MEC Lesufi from his duties as a matter of urgency.

DA calls on MEC Lesufi to close illegal schools

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is calling on the Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi to close all illegal schools across the province.

This follows a video that went viral on social media of an illegal school operating in Cosmo City.

The video shows the JMPD conducting an inspection at the school and interviewing a 20-year-old teacher. According to the teacher captured in the video, the name of the school is Perfect Space Academy. The school teaches learners from grades 1 to 9; grades one, two and three are taught together in one class, those in grades four, five and six are taught in one class and grades eight and nine learners are also taught together in one classroom.

The building in which learners are taught is old and dilapidated and they also use a tent as a classroom. The environment is not conducive for learning and teaching.

The video can be seen here.

The DA has also learned that there are many schools that are operating illegally particularly in the townships targeting foreign national children who do not have proper documentation to stay and study in the country.

In most cases, these illegal schools hire unqualified teachers.

It is high time that the Department conducts regular inspections of all schools across the province to ascertain whether they are registered and to ensure that they abide by the standards and norms of the Department.

We also urge parents to verify with the Department whether a school is registered before sending their children to that institution. If the school is not registered this means that any qualification attained from that school will not be recognised.

The DA will table questions to MEC Lesufi in the Gauteng Legislature to also ascertain whether the department has any measures in place to identify and eradicate illegal schools in the province.

DA calls on MEC Lesufi to investigate allegations of mistreatment of learners with special needs

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is calling on the GautengcMEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi to investigate the allegations of the mistreatment of learners with special needs in Gauteng schools.

This shocking incident was revealed to the public by ENCA’s Checkpoint.

The programme also shows learners with special needs expressing how they are mistreated at school. These learners are teased and belittled because they are struggling at school.

They are also discriminated against by their teachers who call them insulting names and they are then told to sit at the back of the classroom because they are not smart.

These learners are vulnerable and unable to read yet nothing has been done to assist them.

It is the responsibility of the Gauteng Department of Education to ensure that all learners are taught in a dignified manner irrespective of their learning needs.

The DA calls on MEC Lesufi to intervene as a matter of urgency to ensure that these learners with special needs are given a fair chance to learn and develop.

The department also has a responsibility to assess the needs of learners where it is evident that they are not coping with their schoolwork in order to ascertain what proper interventions need to occur.

Gauteng needs a school safety plan

The armed robbery that took place at Edenvale High School today, once again highlights how vulnerable to crime Gauteng schools and our children are.

The MEC for Education, Panayaza Lesufi needs to do more to ensure that our school infrastructure, especially schools which have new technology are given adequate security to prevent schools from becoming a soft target to criminals.

I am relieved that no learner or staff member was injured during the very traumatic ordeal.

Last week an 18-year-old pupil was shot through a window of a classroom in Edenvale.

We commend the South African Police Service (SAPS) for their speedy response however we call on SAPS to do more in order to ensure visible policing in areas where crime is out of control.

SAPS needs sufficient resources to responds to crime and ensure that there is more visible policing.

Residents of Gauteng deserve to live and work in an environment that is safe.

I will be engaging with MEC Lesufi to find out what security measures are being put in place to ensure that our teachers, pupils and schools are provided with adequate security.

Lesufi should eat humble pie and apologise for misleading the people of Gauteng

by Alan Fuchs MPL – DA Shadow MEC for Infrastructure Development

MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi, should apologise for his racially charged rant in the Gauteng Legislature when he accused “white developers” of holding up the occupation of a school. This was nothing more than a distraction to hide the Gauteng government’s disorder.

With much fanfare, the Nokhuthula School for special needs education which was built at a cost of R250 million, was opened in last October.

This opening was attending by Premier David Makhura as well as the MECs for Education and Infrastructure Development.

To date, the school has been unoccupied, ostensibly as a result of an occupation certificate that has not been provided by the City of Johannesburg.

With feigned and exaggerated anger, the MEC said he would meet the City of Johannesburg in court if the occupancy issue was not resolved.

The Department of Infrastructure Development, which was responsible for overseeing the building of the school, has now come clean and admitted that they, and not the City of Johannesburg, were responsible for the delay in occupation of the school.

This same administration has also not granted the Gauteng Provincial Legislature an occupancy certificate. This essentially means that the legislature building is being illegally occupied.

When called upon by the DA to apologise for making unsubstantiated allegations against Johannesburg, the MEC for Infrastructure Development as well as members of the committee arrogantly refused to do so.

The DA believes that every child has the right to education and that this should be done in an environment that is conducive to learning and teaching.

A change of government via the ballot box in 2019 is the only thing that can save Gauteng from the continued abuse that it is subject to.

DA calls on MEC Lesufi to investigate claims of xenophobia and racism at Boksburg School

by Khume Ramulifho MPL – DA Shadow MEC for Education

I have written to the MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi asking him to investigate claims of xenophobia and racism at Freeway Park Primary School in Boksburg.

In a sound clip, sent to me, the principal of the school can be heard speaking to a teacher who is originally from Zimbabwe in a condescending and belittling manner.

There have however, also been allegations of racism and xenophobia.

The principal can also be heard asking the teacher if she has a SACE number and if she has all her paperwork in order, that would allow her to work in the country.

It has been alleged that the principal humiliated the teacher, who eventually broke down in tears and collapsed.

The DA believes that all foreign nationals who enter the country, should do so legally and have all the necessary documentation that would allow them to work in the country.

We cannot tolerate any kind of xenophobia or racism in our schools, particularly from principals who need to set the example to both teachers and learners on how they should behave towards their fellow colleagues and learners. Schools are intended to be places of safety for staff and pupils alike.

I will be monitoring the progress of this investigation closely.