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Protesting parents ordered to vacate Port Elizabeth ECDOE offices - see letter

Feb 11, 2016
Protesting parents ordered to vacate Port Elizabeth ECDOE offices - see letter

It was not immediately clear on Thursday afternoon if some parents, who have been occupying the Valentine Building at the Port Elizabeth branch of the Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDOE) in Sidwell will obey a letter from the department demanding that they vacate the premises.

The parents began a sleep in at the building on Monday night as part of the wider Northern Areas schools shutdown, which began on the 18th of January – just five days after schools opened for the new academic year.

They were hoping the sleep in would add pressure on the Department to meet their demands for more teachers to local schools among other education-related demands.

“Kindly be advised that you are currently prohibiting the use and functionality of the hall for which it is primarily intended,” reads the letter, which was signed by HJ Grobler, the Acting District Director at the ECDOE’s Port Elizabeth District office.

“You are herewith notified to vacate the said hall with immediate effect, failing which an urgent eviction order will be obtained to have you removed from the hall and the Port Elizabeth District office premises.”

The letter was posted on Facebook by Marlon Daniels, the Nelson Mandela Bay Regional Chairman of the Nationalist Coloured Party.

“So this is our eviction notice… We are entering our 4th day of occupying the department of education because they are denying our kids their basic rights to education.

“...we demand a teacher present in each class...and the department is telling us that it is not priority to have a teacher in each class.... we are a group of people who have been sleeping at the department since Monday and are planning to do so until there is a teacher in each class,” Daniels said with the post.

While the post was widely shared and received support from some, who feel they protesters should not budge, it remains to be seen what will happen now.

Daniels also claimed that African National Congress (ANC) Member of the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, Christian Martins, had joined the parents for the sleep in. Martins raised eyebrows in January when he apparently laid charges against the ECDOE, which is headed by his ANC colleague, Mandla Makupula, in connection with the school closures.

Still on Wednesday evening, during a meeting at Hillside High School, parents, teachers, Principals and SGB’s from about 42 schools, which were led in the protest by the Northern Areas Education Forum (NAEF), agreed to call off the school closures and allow children back in the classrooms.

But that does not mean the fight is over, they said, and gave the ECDOE until the 18 March to address their demands – which gives the department just over a month to address the issues.