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Crawthorne Christian Academy In Racist Storm After Viral Video Of Adult Attacking Female Pupil

A 13-year-old learner has been barred from attending classes at Crowthorne Christian Academy because her dreadlocks violated school’s new hair policy.

The learner could not attend school on Monday and Tuesday this week after she was forcefully removed from her classroom. A video capturing the moment, including the assault of the mother by a school official, surfaced on social media yesterday.

The school in Midrand, north of Joburg, is owned by principal Tanya Booysen and her husband Andries, and according to the Gauteng Department of education, it has been operating illegally.

In a dramatic video that played out on the school premises on Monday, (a man known as Henk to parents who is Booysen’s husband), can be seen aggressively pushing the learner along with her mother out of a classroom after they insisted on seeing Booysen.

Henk questioned what the parents did not like about the rules and that the school would not allow the learner to attend class.

Explaining how the altercation came about, the child’s mother, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child, said she decided to go to the school on Monday to meet with Booysen. This, she says, was to explain that her daughter’s locks were her natural hair and not extensions.

The school’s revised policy states that “Only natural hair allowed”…“No hair extensions are permitted”.

She says her daughter had grown the dreadlocks from when she was younger and only cut them off when she was nine to accommodate her ballet and contemporary dance exams which required her hair to be in a certain way.

In April, the school changed its code of conduct with regards to the grooming of the learners hair. In the renewed policy, hair extensions were not permitted and learners could only come to school in their natural hair. Physical copies of the renewed code of conduct were sent to the parents at the end of the second term.

“My daughter used to go to school in her natural Afro tied in a bun and she’d sometimes do braids or I would plait her natural hair,” she said.

“But since the rules had changed, I decided to re-install her natural dreadlocks which I had kept from when she had dreadlocks as a child. This was during the school holidays, and I noticed that her afro was getting damaged because she could no longer do braids, so I installed her dreadlocks,” mom said.

The mother says she explained to the principal that her daughter would be returning to school in dreadlocks and that they were not extensions. She says she never received a response to her text.

Two weeks ago while on holiday, the mother said she received a message from Booysen complaining about her daughter’s dreadlocks not being tied neatly in a bun.

She said she corrected the matter and the school sent her another text on Saturday saying that her daughter should not return to the school on Monday if her dreadlocks were still intact.

“I am referring again to the message sent on July 22. [Name] hair was extended, regardless of what it is called. You have had ample time to remove the hair that was extended. I expect the extensions to be removed before [learner] comes to school on Monday,” the message read.

Accompanied by her mother, the pupil went to school in her dreadlocks on Monday.

“Tanya [the principal] refused to meet with me and instead called her husband [Henk] who lives in their house on the same property as the school – to forcefully drag my daughter out of the classroom.”

The situation quickly escalated when the mother warned Henk not to touch her daughter.

“He assaulted me and pushed me to the floor in front of other learners. They were saying horrible things and telling my daughter to take her things and never return to school,” she said.

She has since opened a common assault case with the police against Henk and will also lay a complaint with the Human Rights Commission of SA against the school.

Police spokesperson Col Dimakatso Nevhuhulwi confirmed the case and said no arrest has been made yet.

Gauteng department of education spokesperson Steve Mabona said the school was operating illegally.

“The department is aware of the incident at the said school. It must be noted that the said school is illegally operating and the learner was offered alternative schooling and counselling. We are assisting the school to comply and encouraging all unregistered institutions to engage with the department for assistance with the registration process.”

The teenager’s parents are still undecided whether to keep her at the school or enrol her elsewhere.

“Although the department tried to intervene and said my daughter could return to the school in her dreadlocks, they also gave me options of other schools she could go to. My issue now is that the school follows the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum and is different from the curriculum in SA, so it won’t be easy to find a school.

“My daughter is also not comfortable with going back after the humiliation, but she is missing school while her peers are learning,” she said.-Sowetan

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