BOKSBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, October 24, 2012 (thenewage.co.za): The Human Rights Commission (HRC) is investigating alleged racial and religious discrimination at a school in Boksburg while the teacher at the centre of the row has been suspended (see HPI: here). This follows complaints against a teacher at the Parkdene Primary School who has been accused of harassing a Grade 3 pupil for wearing the sacred Hindu red string (Kavlava) around his wrist.
Isaac Magena, spokesperson for the HRC, confirmed receiving two complaints about the alleged harassment of Akilan Madurai. "One (we got) from the parents and recently we got another one from the DA. We have already started with our investigation," Magena said.The HRC said it was in contact with the Department of Education.
The child's parents Sundrika and Don Madurai said they had tired of dealing with their son's "harassment." "We tried every avenue to deal with the matter internally. The principal told us to find him another (school)," Don Madurai told The New Age. Akilan also spoke out about his ordeal: "She called me a coolie (a derogatory word for Indians in South Africa) after I refused to cut off my string. The Madurai family is not the only family with complaints against the teacher. Several other parents said they were glad that "this was being exposed".
Attorneys acting for the school said the principal and teacher denied the allegations. "They (allegations) are strongly denied. Racism is not being tolerated at our school. Our school policy says all religions decoration may be worn and be hidden with a jersey," said Kwa attorneys. Department of Education spokesperson Charles Phahlane said, "The matter is still in process and we will communicate the outcomes."