So why are incidents of corporal punishment still rife at schools?
This week the Gillits Primary school came under fire by parents and the local community after hearing of a teacher who allegedly hit a learner with his belt, causing damage to the learner’s eye.
According to the child’s father’s account of the incident, it occurred during class, the details of which were corroborated by the child’s peers. Apparently, the child arrived home with an open wound near her eye, which was red and swollen. The parents of the child administered some medication and approached the school the following day to find out exactly what happened.
After the meeting, it emerged that this particular teacher had previously threatened another teacher, his colleague, with assault over a difference of opinion, and just a year ago he was also interrogated by the Department of Education for assaulting another child at the school. Photographs of the assaulted child was handed over to the department, and according to the Chairman of the school’s governing body, the department is yet to resolve this matter.
Fast forward a year later, and this incident has now left the school’s governing body asking why this teacher is still in the employ of the department of Education if he has this proven history of violence against children.
The parent laid a criminal charge of assault against the teacher, but according to the governing body, the charge officer first allegedly encouraged the parent to try and resolve the matter amicably at the school and even try and get the medical expenses paid by the teacher.
A source at the school who cannot be named because they are not allowed to talk to the media confirmed that the police officer arrived at the school with the parent to mediate a resolution instead of lodging a charge against the teacher. When the mediation didn’t go as planned, a charge was then lodged with the Hillcrest Police Station.
According to Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane, the spokesman for SAPS, a case of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm was opened at Hillcrest police station. The suspect was arrested and charged accordingly. The suspect will appear again today, 17 August 2016.
Zwane also denied that the charge officer didn’t act within the ambit of her duties. He said: “according to the member, she never took the victim to the school to have the matter resolved.” This is directly contrary to eyewitness accounts of what happened.
I tried several times to contact both Muzi Mahlambi and Sihle Mlotshwa, from the Department of Education but all attempts were unsuccessful. Neither answered their phones nor returned my calls after leaving messages.
But according to a department official who spoke to me off the record, the case is ongoing.
In the meantime, this teacher is still at the school and the governing body chair says they will exercise their legal recourse if nothing is done soon.
Do you think a teacher accused of corporal punishment has the right to remain at the school pending an investigation (however long that takes) or should that teacher be suspended until the investigation is complete?
You can email Terence Pillay at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @terencepillay1 and tweet him your thought.
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