The viral picture that led South Africans to label Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke racist, merely captured a moment and was not a true reflection of the school ethos, the school’s governing body said on Thursday…

Governing body chairperson Jozeph du Plessis released a statement after a chaotic day at the school, which saw a protest by members of the community, including some EFF members, and a visit by provincial government officials.

The North West education department has suspended a teacher while an investigation is conducted.

“Schweizer-Reneke Primary School is proud of its integrated character. The school’s ethos is built on inclusivity as a reflection of the broader South African society,” Du Plessis said.

Du Plessis added that the photograph was a “reflection of a single moment in a classroom”

“The governing body does not condone any distinction based on race. Learners from different backgrounds, including race, religion and language, are not merely accommodated but are fully integrated in all aspects of the school environment.”

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He said that the school would help staff in “aspects where it appears that integration is not taking place as it should”.

“The governing body will provide support and training where areas lacking in integration are identified. The governing body is committed to integration and to make a positive contribution to society. We will make sure that the necessary resources are available and that staff members have access to information and training.”

Du Plessis said the school had a proud history of pupils from different backgrounds

“The interests of learners remain our first priority and everything possible will be done to ensure a safe and happy environment where they can develop and grow.”

Earlier, parents had to fetch their little ones after protests became heated outside the school.

The picture sparked outrage on social media in many quarters.

Others however, pointed out that the picture was seemingly part of a series of pictures taken on the same day in the same class.

In the other pictures, children of different races can be seen interacting with different pupils in different seats

The school governing body did not address why the initial picture showed an apparent divide in the seating arrangement, nor whether the images were taken in the same sitting.

Meanwhile, the North West education department said it would return to the school next week when it received the outcomes of its investigation.