Willowmead Secondary School has been shut down since Monday, as protesters demanded that Nadarajah Pillay be sacked.
They alleged that Pillay who is Indian had called them “monkeys and baboons with mkhukhu [shack] mentality”.
Some teachers chanting “Pillay must fall” and also held placards with the same message. Another placard read “Pillay says Black teachers and learners have a poverty stricken face” (sic).
One of the teachers, who did not want to be named, said Pillay was rude and used abusive language when he addressed staff meetings.
“It is difficult to work with him. He insults us like little children and when we complain he tells us to leave. We are being abused by him and we are tired,” she said.
Another teacher said: “We work in fear. We hate coming here.”
One of the pupils said Pillay called them “monkeys and baboons”.
“He tells us at assembly that we behave like monkeys in a zoo. He says we bringmkhukhu mentality to school and it hurts because some of us come from the nearby informal settlement,” he said.
Another pupil said Pillay called him “ugly”. “He says we are so Black that if we touch a charcoal we will leave fingerprints and we have no respect. He says these things when addressing us on the wrongs we do, but we do not get the message.
“All we hear is the insults. I try to ignore him at times,” he said.
Other pupils said Pillay treated Indian pupils with kid gloves compared to Blacks.
“He talks to them nicely and they get away with a lot of things.”
A cleaner, who also did not want to be identified, said Pillay’s insults landed her in hospital.
“When my child passed away, he said God answered his prayers because I talk too much. I was hospitalised because I could not cope with what he said. When I returned to work he said I look like I have HIV,” she said, with tears in her eyes.
However, Indian pupils said the school would fall apart and drop its matric pass rate should Pillay leave.
“At first I would cry when he called us barbaric but when I got to know him better, I realised that he did not mean it in a bad way. He is just strict and he wants the school to go high,” she said. Pillay could not be reached for comment.
But Gauteng department of education spokesman Oupa Bodibe said Pillay would be served with a precautionary suspension.
“The department views the matter in a very serious light and will not ignore the allegations. We have already concluded a preliminary investigation into the matter. Should any wrongdoing be proven true, the department will not hesitate to act,” he said.