Rector’s eNews – 01 June 2022/ Rector's eNews
As everybody is aware, the past few days have been a very difficult time for our Michaelhouse community and there have been a number of disparaging comments made about our school through the extensive and exhaustive dialogue on social media. Whatever may have been said, those who know Michaelhouse well have testified to the fact that we are generally a very happy school where excellent relationships exist between boys of all races and backgrounds. This ambience is something we have actively worked hard to promote over several years and, indeed, more recently through the work of Deputy Rector: Pastoral, Sibs Ncamani, and others who have been at the forefront of engendering a climate of trust and engagement amongst all boys and staff. Board members and Old Boys such as Ray Mkhulisi, for example, have supported our initiatives in many areas and have contributed wholeheartedly to our common approach to life in which a tolerant and anti-racist ethos prevails. And so it was unexpected to find ourselves in the eye of a storm at the weekend, but it serves as a reminder to us to continue our work of building an inclusive ethos.
We are looking forward at this point and acting very swiftly to address matters in the following way: with the agreement of St John’s, Michaelhouse has appointed an independent legal consultant to lead an investigation into the alleged incident. For various reasons, it is not prudent to name her here, but she is an experienced practitioner, having been, inter alia, a partner at a leading national law firm, and a member of the South African Legal Practice Council . She is currently an Acting Judge of the Gauteng High Court Division in Johannesburg. Her Terms of Reference will be to review the video footage of the incident, to interview all witnesses, potential witnesses and stakeholders concerned, to review statements of the boys and personnel of both schools here and in Johannesburg, to establish the veracity of the statements received and to consider whether there are grounds for disciplinary action before submitting a report to me as the Rector of Michaelhouse and to the Executive Headmaster of St John’s. She was appointed on Monday, started work yesterday and will continue with as much purpose and haste as possible.
I need to explain that, should there be grounds for disciplinary action, then the matter will need to progress under our own Disciplinary Code and Procedures with a different and similarly independent Chairperson. At the conclusion of that process, if it were to run, the Chair would make a recommendation to me about the outcome. As you can glean from this, the process may take time to complete, but we are taking the lead in resolving this matter expeditiously as you may judge from the appointment and progress of the investigating officer who has already conducted interviews at Michaelhouse.
Today the senior boys have moved into “exam mode” as they begin with the first papers of their mid-year examinations this morning. We have a busy weekend ahead with matches at Westville and we look forward to those.