SADTU EC Media Statement on the tragic death of Bhisho High School after being bullied

24 November 2021

The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU) in the Eastern Cape enjoins herself with the people of the province and beyond in expressing her profound sadness on the untimely and tragic passing away of Lathitha Nako, a learner at Bhisho High School.

We send our unqualified words of sympathy to the Nako family and the Bhisho High School community fully aware of their difficulty to comprehend with their loss, which is our loss as well.

The incident associated with Lathitha's tragic passing away is a crude reminder of the extent of fragmentation of our social fabric as a society. This painful incident re-affirms our longstanding belief that schools are not an end to themselves, but are an extension of our communities. Hence, social ills that define our daily experiences in our communities and homesteads are inherently part of our schooling system. Thus, our schools are suddenly becoming centres of grief and pain.

As a consequence of these observed realities, two weeks ago, SADTU in the province hosted its campaign called, "I AM A SCHOOL FAN" at Bhisho High School wherein we interfaced with educators, learners and parents. The essence and purpose of that programme is to restore human dignity as one of foundational values advocated by our country's Constitution. The "I AM A SCHOOL FAN" campaign is also a means by which we place everyone at the centre towards ensuring that we have safe and violence-free schools.

It is against this background that we urge all and sundry to resist climbing the tide of opportunism and populism as displayed by one Majola, who sees the Bhisho High School incident as a convenient vehicle and opt to play to the public gallery and use emotional blackmail by deepening the crisis to an extent of pronouncing clumsy and polarizing statements with intent to instigate anarchy in a place of peace and order.

To Majola and those who think alike, they must be reminded that the Department of Education, in its operations is guided by legally prescribed procedures and processes that accord all parties to a matter a platform to deposit their sides to any story. All these established procedures and processes are deliberately designed to avoid use of emotion and personal wisdom to adjudicate over matters. As SADTU, we believe that no reasonable person can make a determination as to good cause in the absence of well-balanced facts, unless such person is filled with malice.

We call on Majola and his organization to desist from UKUPHIL' ENXEBENI, but his thoughts and actions must be defined by depth, substance and agility of mind. Such requisites will help him to understand the primary causal factors that place the safety and lives of learners and teachers alike at risk in our schools. Beyond that grasp, it is expected that all education stakeholders would not be sensational in approach and thought, but would pro-actively engage in clear programmes that will promote constitutionally founded rights and responsibilities. We unapologetically despise vulgarisation of other people during a period of grief and pain for mere public validation as evidenced in a video on circulation with Majola making some reckless statements placing upon himself self-importance and fictitious authority.

We expected people like Majola, in their pseudo activism, to be embodiments and vessels for the enforcement of empathy and compassion than to implant antipathy. His reliance on pain and grief of others for him to walk and work will only serve to derail our progression as a society. Whereas we fairly understand that as different organisations and as individuals we are wired differently, but such difference must not make us to be models of feud.

As SADTU, we will continue working with the school and the Department of Education in the province towards ensuring that the Bhisho High School matter is handled with care to the latter. We are also grateful that other state entities are also involved as an endeavour to establish facts and effect consequence measures that may be deemed necessary.

Amid these concerted flabbergasting attacks by the likes of Majola against educators, we must remain resolute in our calls for the Department of Education to work collaboratively with progressive education stakeholders in making our schools centres of excellence that inspire hope. We must unflinchingly demand from our employer meaningful interventions that will yield positive changes. It is now clearer more than ever before that the welfare state of our learners can never be relegated to the work of Learner Support Agents (LSA’s) or Education Assistants (EA’s).  Objective realities demand placement of professionally qualified people to genuinely deal with the learners’ monumental welfare challenges. If we fail to clinically address this challenge, the entire education system will have failed on its prime purpose.
On behalf of the more than 40 000 members of SADTU in the province, we extend our sincere and profound condolences to the Nako family on the loss of their lovely child. We hope and pray that in their hearts and minds they will find courage and wisdom to live beyond this pain.

In SADTU we trust, for you will never walk alone

Aluta continua!!!!!!

ISSUED BY: SADTU EC Secretariat

CONTACT:

Provincial Secretary: Chris Mdingi
Cell: 0605834462
Deputy Provincial Secretary:  Ntombodumo Maqashalala
Cell: 0605201447