Pretoria – An owner of a Centurion crèche plagued by allegations of racism is adamant the allegations are not true and the situation is being misread.
This comes after Koeitjies en Kalfies Kleuterskool found itself under severe public criticism for allegedly segregating a black child from her white classmates.
The incident was sparked by Kefhiloe Mooka, a woman who said she is the cousin of the black child, when she posted a picture on Facebook showing the alleged segregation.
In the picture, there are seven kids, six white and one black. The black child is seen sitting alone at a separate table, while the other six are sitting together at their own table enjoying cupcakes.
Mooka wrote on her Facebook page: “This picture was sent by the school to the mother. Either they really wanted her to take her child out of the crèche or they are so blind they can’t see what is wrong with the picture.”
After the picture circulated on social media, there was widespread outcry. Hundreds of people started lambasting the crèche, sparking a huge debate on Facebook.
But owner Anell Engelbrecht is singing a different tune. “People are reading too much into the situation. The picture is one big misunderstanding. We didn’t do anything wrong intentionally,” she said.
She said she has received death threats and hate mail.
The teacher, who took the photo, Ane Muller, who is also the daughter of the owner, further reiterated that the photo was misunderstood.
Muller said her class is normally made up of 10 children. On Wednesday two children were absent, leaving them with eight.
The children were scheduled to have a party so she called all of the children out of the classroom and asked them out to the patio to sit on the table. “A table can only seat six children,” Muller said. While the rest of the children walked straight to the table the black girl and another girl walked to the playground instead.
After Muller placed six of the eight children at the six-seater table, she asked the assistant to bring the two girls from the playground and they were placed at different tables.
As she was about to take the photo, the other little girl started crying and the teacher asked the assistant to pick her up. “The picture was taken at that very moment,” Muller said.
There were also allegations the black girl was not given a cupcake while all her other classmates had cupcakes. To this Muller replied: “If you zoom into the photo you will see she is holding a cupcake in her hand with no icing because I removed it for her. She doesn’t like icing. We know this from previous parties we’ve had at the crèche,” Muller said.
After taking the photo the teacher sent it to the children’s parents on a crèche WhatsApp group.
“I didn’t even look twice to check if the photo had any racial connotation to it,” Muller said.
Upon receiving the picture, the mother of the little black girl immediately rushed to the crèche to fetch her child. She has since pulled her out of the crèche.
The crèche has been operating for six years and has two black children out of a total of 65. The medium of instruction is Afrikaans only and the alleged victim is the only black girl in her class.
The MEC of the Gauteng Department of Education, Panyaza Lesufi, visited the crèche on Thursday. In his tweets he wrote: “I am here with at the school with the principal. All kids are white taught by white teachers. Blacks are just maids here. Disgusting.” Lesufi assigned social workers to conduct an investigation.