An ANC ward councillor in Whittlesea is accused of delaying matric exams for several schools in the area by blocking entry and forcefully confiscating gate keys from Zamokuhle High School caretaker, last Thursday.
The school is reportedly a centre from which all surrounding schools get their matric exam question papers.
The matter was brought to light by an EFF branch chairperson in the area, Ayanda Mxhosana, who indicated that some pupils from Zamokuhle were locked outside the premises by ANC ward councillor Papama Madubedube who involved himself in an issue that did not concern him.
“Education department personnel and teachers who went to collect exam papers could not exit the school premises because Madubedube and his ward committee members blocked the gate with a car after forcefully confiscating the keys from the caretaker, thereby delaying exams for several schools. That was irresponsible conduct from a public representative during an important time where children had to focus and concentrate. Some pupils looked on in trauma as the councillor swore at people who tried to stop him in his tracks,” said Mxhosana.
Zamokuhle High School principal Sipho Mathumbu said the dissension between Madubedube and the school was related to a learnership programme for which classes were conducted at the school.
“We had an agreement between the people of the learnership and our school governing body (SGB) when they started last year, that they would continue to pay a monthly rental fee which they had been paying. However, they had two months’ payment outstanding and we had asked them to make an undertaking by acknowledging the debt and committing to a payment which they did not do. We refused them entry on that basis last Thursday morning before matric exams began.”
Mathumbu confirmed the confiscation of gate keys and the blocking of entry by Madubedube, indicating the matter could have been easily resolved had the people of the learnership committed to a payment then, which they subsequently did following the incident.
However, ward 26 councillor Madubedube denied claims against him, stating that Mathumbu received monthly rentals from the learnership heads that the SGB was not aware of.
“The dispute between the school and the people of the learnership is a long-standing one which is very unfortunate because the programme is to develop the people in the area. The principal did not even introduce the programme to the office of the councillor as required when a development is to take place in an area. Mxhosana is aggrieved and bitter because he was not part of the recruitment process for the learnership and yet he was the one who, for months, disrupted classes at the school by removing pupils from their classrooms during teaching and learning time.”
He said he spoke to the Zamokuhle SGB chairperson who said she was not aware that the school received rental fee.
“If this is the case, to whose bank account is the monthly rental being paid, because the principal claimed it was the SGB that withheld study material for the learnership, preventing it from continuing. This is sinister conduct by the principal in relation to the rentals. Maybe the EFF member who brought the matter to the media is the spokesperson of the education department, with whom I have been in communication regarding the matter of the learnership,” said the councillor.
Education department spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima condemned the delaying of matric exams by those responsible, stating it could have had dire consequences for many schools.
“Many schools could have suffered immensely had the delay been longer than reported. We have not received any reports about this from the Chris Hani education department as it was not reported. However, we will investigate the matter because we do not take lightly the risk of ruining our pupils’ lives by denying them their right to education by delaying exams and causing unnecessary panic.”
Mtima said if the dispute between the school and the people responsible for the learnership persisted, they would have to stop using the school to conduct classes to avoid further problems.