A teacher at a school in South Africa has been suspended after black pupils in her class were photographed sitting separately from white children.
The image, taken at Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke in the North West region, sparked outrage as the few black children in the class were sitting at their own separate table.
The local education department launched a probe and said an inspector would visit the school on Thursday morning.
Today they said in a statement: 'The Education and Sport Development department has with immediate effect suspended the teacher allegedly behind the racism incident at Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke.'
Officials were also reported to be investigating the school's principal as they visited the school this morning.
The image was shared on the school's WhatsApp group by the children's class teacher to show parents how the first day back was going.
The image of the children, who are all aged between four and five, echoed South Africa's dark apartheid past of racial segregation and oppression.
An education official said: 'We are not sure whether is fake or real, if it's real we are condemning it, we say not during this era, we cannot really accept it.'
Meanwhile the mother of one of the black pupils has insisted the pupils were told where to sit in the classroom.
She told TimesLIVE: 'They say the school says the children decided to sit that way, which is not true.
'When I got to the class before school in the morning, all the children's names were already written on the desks they were supposed to sit at. The labels had been put on their tables and their aprons.'
After the break the children were moved to a different seating plan and were no longer separated by race.
Another parent said she was 'pi**** off' by the picture, saying white parents had been thanking the teacher for the image in the WhatsApp group but no-one had brought up the separation.
ANC activist Mcebo Dlamini wrote on Facebook: 'What is most provoking about this image is not that black kids are ostracised from white kids, that is common in our supposedly post apartheid Africa.
'Rather what becomes painful is that there are black people who still insist that racism has ended and who think that blacks and white can have peaceful relations that do not have undertones of racism.
'This is impossible so long as white people have power, what therefore is needed is to change the existing power dynamics such that black people can have dignity.
'You can take your kids to the whitest schools in the country but so long as the black majority is poor, your kids will always be reminded that they are black and therefore inferior.'
The school has not responded to requests from the local media for comment.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.