Jean-Jacques Cornish

Racist teacher quits exclusive South African school

The headmaster of one of South Africa most exclusive private schools has apologized to pupils and the public for the way he dealt with a senior geography master making blatantly racist comments to students in his class.

Keith Arlow was put on final warning, demoted and given a pay cut for saying pupils’ performance in exams was determined by their race.

He has since resigned from St John’s College and left with immediate effect.

In radio interviews yesterday (Friday), headmaster Paul Edey preferred to call his teacher’s remarks stereotypical rather than racist.

He refused interviewers’ requests that he repeat exactly what Keith Arlow had said.

This was after the member of the Gauteng provincial executive for education Panyasa Lesufi called on the school and demanded the teacher be sacked.

A petition by old boys of the school made a similar demand.

Since the days of apartheid private schools have jealously guarded their independence.

Their status as church schools afforded them some protection and allowed them to defy the racist government statutes by admitting black pupils.

Lesufi maintains that independent schools cannot disobey the constitution which takes a hard line against hate speech and racism.

He wants Keith Arlow reported to the South African Council of Educators. If they find him guilty he will be struck off the roll of teachers.


Enquire about availability for radio, podcasts, reporting or opinion pieces.

Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.