28/07/2017 11:56 SAST | Updated 28/07/2017 12:12 SAST

Panyaza Lesufi: St John's Has Until 1pm To Take Action Over Racist Teacher -- Or Face Legal Action

"There can't be someone who has been found guilty of racism roaming around in the school" said the education MEC.

Thapelo Maphakela/Gallo Images

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has given St John's College an ultimatum: by 1pm they need to come up with a better decision about racist teacher Keith Arlow, who is still working at the school despite being found guilty of misconduct in an internal hearing.

"I gave them the deadline of 1 o'clock today to respond to the three issues I have raised," he said.

"I have also indicated that if they don't arrive at a decision that will satisfy me, including withdrawing the public comments they have issued, we will have to go our different ways and we will deal with it in a legal way."

Lesufi added: "Nothing that will keep the teacher here will satisfy me. There can't be someone who has been found guilty of racism roaming around in the school."

On Friday Lesufi also said in a statement on Thursday that "nothing below expulsion will be acceptable".

Lesufi visited the school on Friday morning after news broke that Arlow was found guilty of misconduct in an internal hearing for a racist campaign against South African black, Indian and Greek students, as well as foreign students. But he was given a final written warning and retained by the school. Parents have told HuffPost SA that he should have been dismissed and say he has been given a slap on the wrist.

The story caused a public outcry and the headmaster, Paul Edey, has refused to call the teacher's comments racist.

Arlow is alleged to have:

  • Told a black learner who received high marks in a test, "You disappointed the blacks by getting a good mark";
  • Told black learners in his class that the only reason they were getting good marks is because they sat next to white learners;
  • Told a black scholarship learner who got a good mark, "Well done, you've started thinking like a white boy";
  • Called Indian learners "Nawab", a term used to describe native governors during the Mogul Empire. It is used as a term for Muslim nobles or a person of high status. Not all Indians at the school are Muslim;
  • Admitted publicly to disliking learners in the sixth form because there are too many foreigners in that grade and called foreign nationals "aliens";
  • Told a learner he was "dirty" because he is Greek;
  • Told Indian learners in his class they were all going to be Golf GTIs because they are Indian, and then laughed; and
  • Claimed the geography teachers at a dinner were bus drivers because they were black and so should not be served.

In a letter to the school community this week, Edey said "...the staff member has been found guilty of serious misconduct and, having taken into account a number of mitigating factors, has been issued with a final written warning". Arlow has been stripped of senior positions and his salary and benefits reduced, said Edey in the letter.