Mr Frieslaar says farewell to Lentegeur High

Retired principal, Aboebakar Frieslaar.

The man that has seen three generations of pupils in his time at Lentegeur High School, is retiring after more than three decades at the school.

Aboebakar Frieslaar, 60, a Colorado Park resident who hails from Surrey Estate, said when he was younger the limited career options he could choose from included becoming a teacher, policeman, or a priest. He aspired to be a chartered accountant but chose to teach instead.

His late father, Qusim Frieslaar, inspired him to study further in 1977. “He wanted me to become an imam, a priest in our community. He told me before I go that route, I needed to study and equip myself. To him education was important, he was constantly reading and learning.”

Mr Frieslaar started teaching at Manenberg High School in 1980. 

“My time at Manenberg made me realise we need to appreciate how we grew up and where we come from, sometimes we take these things for granted.”

Mr Frieslaar stepped into Lentegeur High School in 1988 as the head of department and later became principal in 1997. “In teaching, one learns about different people and their cultures. The pupils knew how to respect their elders and how to treat one another back then too. We are living in a different time now, with new technologies and everything working fast,” he said.

In 2008, Mr Frieslaar got shot on his way to school. He returned from the bank. A few men followed Mr Frieslaar to school, demanding money and shot him. “This community has great respect for me, I can walk anywhere and I will be fine. The shooting was not connected to the school,” he said.

“We see this school as a safe haven, most of the crime in the area happens outside of the school grounds. Children at school are dealt with if they are affected by crime in their community,” said Mr Frieslaar.

Hajiera Sabera-Swartz, head of security at the school, who is also the discipline and learner support officer as well as counsellor at the school, described Mr Frieslaar as a “pillar of strength”. “I lost my son Nadeem in 2017, and Mr Frieslaar was a pillar of strength for me in that time. He’s seen as a father and grandfather at this school. He was strict at first but he had a very good way of communicating with parents and the community. He has a heart as soft as a marshmallow,” she said.

Former pupil Rachma Ismail, from Lentegeur, said Mr Frieslaar is a great leader. “He showed a lot of compassion and care towards the community of Lentegeur. He always wanted the best for his pupils. Even though the area has bad elements, he would always encourage us to rise above our circumstances,” she said.

Teacher Jenny Maclons, who has taught alongside Mr Frieslaar since 1989, said with tears in her eyes that she will miss seeing him in his office. “A close friend, and a great leader. He has taught me to be punctual when I start my day,” she said.

Mr Frieslaar was very involved in sports, especially rugby. He was also fond of the school’s after-school programmes, she said. “He taught me to get involved in the pupils’ lives, get to know who they are and what they’re about, and also understanding the community,” she said.

“I have a passion for my work and he has taught my how to be a great teacher inside and outside the classroom. He has been part of my teaching career and helped me to grow throughout,” said Ms Maclons.

Mr Frieslaar said now that he is retired he plans to create a Lentegeur High School alumni group to give back to the school financially and socially.