The newly-elected Toisekraal Public School governing body is ready to welcome previously rejected principal Aaron Mhlontlo, saying the former SGB misled and badly influenced parents based on unfounded accusations without proof.
Mhlontlo, who was appointed the school principal in 2017, has not been able to resume his duties due to some members of the previous school governing body’s (SGB) disapproval, claiming the department flouted its appointment processes.
Earlier this month, a new SGB was elected and its chairperson, Zukile Mtwa, indicated that parents desperately needed the appointed principal to start so there could be leadership and progress at the school.
“The parents had a meeting in March, with the aim to speak about the fact that there was no principal at the school and yet one had been appointed a few years ago. Parents expressed desperation for someone to lead the school. We resolved that we wanted a principal as soon as possible, but we are still waiting for the education department to provide a way forward in that regard,” said Mtwa.
He emphasised that their most important task was to make it known to the public that they welcomed Mhlontlo with open arms and could not wait for him to start.
“What was said by the former SGB members as quoted in The Rep – that parents did not want Mhlontlo – is not true, and their view was not on behalf of the parents.
“The rejection of Mhlontlo by some members of the previous SGB is the reason we have no principal and some pupils from this community have gone to faraway schools because there was no stability here,” he said.
SGB treasurer Lindelwa Mbophane said there were three individuals masquerading as SGB members who have the interests of the pupils and school at heart.
“Those people belong to the former SGB cohort and have delayed this school long enough. People need to know that they served their individualistic interests and did not speak on behalf of parents. We have never sent them to say any of the things they have said in papers.
Former SGB treasurer Mntumni Ma-Awu said there were members of the newly-elected SGB who did not meet the criteria to be elected and they disputed their election.
“They do not have children at the school and brought letters of guardianship just two days before the election. Some of them did not even appear on the voters’ roll but the education department allowed them, something I have never seen before,” he said.
Ma-Awu indicated they had not received any feedback from the department answering or clarifying their dispute, but that the new SGB was already functional.
The new SGB secretary, Nwabisa Bangani, said on election day the school admitted to have been at fault for not having some parents on the voters’ roll.
“The department said the school was supposed to have made a call to all parents to check their names on the roll prior to the election, but that did not happen. We also did not know that we had to bring letters to prove our guardianship so some people brought theirs on the week of the election and some on the same day. The school took the blame for the this and everyone in the meeting agreed that elections continue because parents knew each other, and if there was any doubt about a nominated or elected person the matter would be looked into then, but everything went smoothly with no objections,” she said.
Bangani indicated it was after the election meeting had adjourned that some members of the previous SGB raised concerns and that the department recognised their election as the SGB.
Principal Aaron Mhlontlo said it shocked him that the “so-called” newly-elected SGB claimed they wanted him at the school, yet they were quiet when he was chased away by angry parents in 2017.
“I do not even know how legitimate the SGB is and I do not know them. They may be new as they claim, but they are not new parents to that school. Why did they not dispute statements made against me in all these years? They kept quiet when I was accused of being parachuted without interviews. When did they realise that my “appointment” was regular? What made them change their minds? How do they guarantee my safety which is utmost important to me? Why did they have to wait until five years later, what changed?” asked Mhlontlo.
He said he was traumatised and depressed by all that had happened and wondered whether they would be able to deal with someone in his state of mind.
Education department spokesperson Mali Mtima said the department has spoken to all parties involved and they were happy for Mhlontlo to start.
“What transpired after the election meeting was not a dispute per se because the same Ma-Awu declared the elections free and fair, it shocked us that they raised matters after making that declaration. We understand Mhlontlo’s safety concerns but based on previous engagements with him, he mentioned in principle that he did not have a problem with working at the school,” said Mtima.