The education department in the district of Mount Frere is investigating reports of physical abuse by a primary school teacher. Earlier this month, angry parents protested outside Ilitha Primary School demanding a Grade R teacher be suspended. The teacher is accused of beating pupils with sticks and blackboard dusters, slapping them and also insulting them.
During the protest, parents locked the teacher out of the school until department officials arrived and calmed down the situation.
A senior inspector in the district, Loyiso Mashwaye, told parents the matter was being taken seriously and would be finalised very soon.
“These are serious allegations and we as the department are giving it a sense of urgency. However, there are processes to follow,” said Mashwaye. “We will try to finalise it before the official school closing date.”.
He admitted that parents had been raising the issue for two years.
“The accused teacher could be suspended or taken for disciplinary action with possibilities of being expelled. However, at this stage, we cannot stop her from performing her duties at the school,” said Mashwaye.
A parent, Nomhle Ndzalela, said, “We sent letters and called for meetings but all we ever got were the empty promises … She must be suspended or expelled and we are not turning back.”
Another parent, Zuko Dabula, said his child no longer wanted to go to school because he was scared of the teacher.
School principal Hazel Mlandu said she had never condoned corporal punishment at the school and she understood the anger of the parents. She said the accused teacher was once taken to a disciplinary hearing for carrying a firearm and threatening to shoot staff members. She said the teacher was sent to anger management counselling.
The accused teacher told GroundUp: “You dare report on this matter. I swear I will teach you a lesson, my child.”
Provincial education spokesman Malibongwe Mtima said the department had banned the use of corporal punishment at schools, and parents had a right to open criminal cases against anyone still using it. He said the matter was being dealt with at the district level and he would not comment any further.
© 2016 GroundUp.
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