01/08/2017 10:48 SAST | Updated 02/08/2017 08:36 SAST

St John's Old Boys Movement Says Council Is Holding Secret Meetings

"Council displays cowardice and unwillingness to engage by meeting at secret location."


St John's College council has displayed "cowardice and unwillingness to engage" by holding meetings at secret locations, the Old Boys #OpenStJohns movement said.

On Monday, the school's management was scheduled to meet with the movement in a bid to persuade headmaster Paul Edey and council chair John Patricios to step down.

The movement believes the pair should resign for failing to sack geography teacher Keith Arlow to remain a staff member after being found guilty of misconduct. Last week, an external hearing found he had made racist comments towards pupils at the school. Despite this, he was only demoted from his position as a senior teacher, put on a final warning and had his pay reduced.

On Monday, the #OpenStJohns group was given the run around. By late evening, they began protesting outside the school in Houghton after being told that the college management decided to meet at a secret location in Sandton.

#OpenStJohns organiser Mabine Seabe said this was strange because "council always sits at the college".

Seabe said it will not be deterred by Monday night's events.

"They believe that this is a flash and fade moment, and we are a movement that will lose relevance once the school returns from holidays [holidays start on Friday]," he told HuffPost SA.

He said the movement had a strong case against the college and he will be building a file of evidence that should not be ignored.

"They can't ignore us forever. Their arrogance will be their downfall," he said.

Since the public uproar over the matter last week, more parents, students and former students have come forward to report incidents where they have been discriminated against. Edey himself revealed that Wits Professor at the Institute for Social and Economic Research, Sarah Nutall, a parent at the school, had been raising alarm bells about other racist incidents. Together with other parents she was trying to draft an anti-racism policy.

The college came under scrutiny after Arlow made racist comments against South African black, Indian, Greek students, and foreign students.