Edenvale High apologises for ‘Heil Hitler’ slurs but says incident was ‘blown out of proportion’


Edenvale High apologises for ‘Heil Hitler’ slurs but says incident was ‘blown out of proportion’

Naledi Shange | 2017-05-29 18:36:22.0

1934, Nuremberg, Germany --- Adolf  Hitler  Saluting.

1934, Nuremberg, Germany — Adolf Hitler Saluting.

While the principal of Edenvale High School on Monday apologised after one of his pupils hurled “Heil Hitler” slurs and Nazi gestures at Jewish children of King David High‚ he believes the incident was “blown out of proportion”.

According to the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD)‚ as King David High gave a performance based on the Holocaust during an interschool play competition earlier this month‚ a pupil from the Edenvale High had reportedly shouted ‘Heil Hitler’ and made Nazi gestures.

“It is unfortunate in the time that has passed‚ there has been much that has been incorrectly reported in the media‚ which has blown the incident out of all proportion‚” principal Larry Harmer wrote in a circular sent to parents on Monday.

In his circular‚ Harmer said the boy had shown remorse as soon as he realised his actions had been hurtful.

“He apologised several times‚ pleading it had not been meant in a malicious or hurtful way. The ‘Heil Hitler’ was merely in recognition of the Nazi uniform worn by the King David learner‚” he said.

Harmer said the school planned to expand its teaching programme to provide sensitivity training‚ emphasising that he and the school strongly condemned anti-Semitic or racist behaviour.

His circular comes after the SAJBD facilitated a meeting between Harmer and King David principal‚ Andrew Baker.

“The aim of the meeting was to find a way forward‚” said SAJBD spokesperson‚ Wendy Kahn.

“During the meeting‚ it was confirmed that at least one Edenvale learner had made offensive comments at the event‚” said Kahn‚ also highlighting that the pupil involved “had since expressed sincere remorse”.

She said Harmer had also apologised for the incident.

“Dr Harmer likewise unequivocally apologised for any offence caused and undertook to work with the SAJBD in introducing‚ through the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre‚ an educational and sensitivity training programme at his school to prevent any recurrence of incidents of this nature‚” said Kahn.

She commended the school on taking action.

“The SAJBD welcomes Edenvale High’s unequivocal condemnation of the incident. It further appreciates the willingness shown by the school to implement appropriate measures aimed at sensitising its learners to the importance of avoiding behaviour likely to cause hurt and offence‚ whether on the basis of race‚ religion‚ ethnicity or any other such grounds.”

Kahn said the Gauteng department of education had not in any way been involved in the SAJBD intervention.

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