A school teacher in the South African town of Schweizer-Reneke has been suspended due to allegations of her splitting pupils into separate groups based on their race during class.
The incident came to light after a mother of one of the students complained about a picture shared by the class’ teacher on the school's WhatsApp group, featuring black students seated separately from white students, local newspaper The Times reports.
"This was meant to be an exciting day for me but it's not," said the woman whose name was not disclosed by the newspaper in order "to protect the identity of her child".
The picture showed 18 white students sitting behind a large desk in the middle of the classroom, with four black students seated at a smaller desk in the corner.
"All I saw was messages from the white parents saying 'dankie, dankie' ['thank you, thank you' on the WhatsApp group] but no one was saying anything about the separation of the learners," the concerned mother said.
According to the BBC, local authorities said they "highly condemn" the segregation, adding that the teacher has been suspended "with immediate effect" pending investigation.
Sello Lehare, the education minister for the North West Province, stated that the teacher was suspended to allow the investigation to "be fair and free", adding that the school’s explanation is "the learners were separated according to those who could understand Afrikaans and English".
A number of social media users also appeared upset by this incident, taking a dim view of the teacher’s actions.
Shame on this teacher.— •Celestiɑ•🐰 (@celestia_fe) 11 января 2019 г.
This is how racism is learned and spread..when peeps of different race & colour are treated different. It's worse with children because it remains in their psyche, longer. Do they use the same toilet facilities?— Foued Hammed (@iSqueZi) 11 января 2019 г.
Hate this:(— — (@TiaSagapolutele) 11 января 2019 г.
This development occurred amid brutal attacks against white farmers in the country, while the government reportedly prepared a land reform which may result in around 200 white-owned farms handed over to black farmers.