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Girl alleged principal hit her after epileptic fit

A 17-year-old learner says she was slapped, then beaten a few days later by a security guard at her school

Photo of a school learner
Londiwe Zondo, who has epilepsy, says she was assaulted twice at school. Photo supplied
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A grade 10 student, Londiwe Zondo, was hospitalized with a dislocated jaw after allegedly being assaulted by a security guard on the school premises.

“[The security guard] said there’s nothing for him to look at me for, but I can look at him because he has a penis. I told him to stop using that language and he attacked me,” said Zondo.

She said she was with a friend when the guard came to lock up the classroom. “My friend and I could not fight him. When he was done, we went home. I could not sleep. The pains were unbearable.”

The 17-year-old student is at a high school in Mandeni near Stanger, KwaZulu-Natal. She has epilepsy. The previous week she says she was slapped by the school principal after she had a seizure.

The argument with the principal started with a confrontation outside the school toilets after Zondo had a seizure. “I was weak and I could not open my eyes …. She [the principal] asked why my eyes are closed. I told her I had a seizure and that it was difficult to open my eyes. She said, ‘When you are sick you close your eyes like that?’ My friend and I did not respond.”

She went to the clinic for a scan. When she returned to school she was summoned to the principal’s office who wanted to know why she was absent for two days. She said the principal felt she was being rude and slapped her face and tried to hit her twice more.

Zondo’s mother, Sibongile Masuku, said doctors used braces to fix her child’s jaw after the security guard beating. “She can’t eat … She was really affected by this mentally and emotionally. It doesn’t make sense how a child can be assaulted twice in the same school.”

She said the case of assault against the principal was dropped after the investigating officer told her there was no evidence.

Masuku wants her daughter to change schools.

Spokesperson for the KZN Department of Education Muzi Mahlambi said the department was aware of the incident. “As the department we condemn what happened in [the school]. We will wait for the district to finish their investigation and we will take it from there,” said Mahlambi.

Police spokesperson Nqobile Gwala said a case of assault against the security guard is being investigated. “It is alleged that 17-year-old learner was assaulted while at the school premises by a known suspect. Investigations are still continuing,” said Gwala.

The KZN Department of Education demanded that GroundUp not get comment from the principal. Since we cannot print his side of the story, we have decided not to name the school.

Correction: the sentence “she said the case of assault against the principal was dropped after the investigating officer told her there was no evidence” originally incorrectly stated that she had withdrawn the case.

Letters

Dear Editor

Epilepsy South Africa read the article about the senseless attach on Londiwe Zondo with shock and horror. We find it hard to believe that educators and staff at a school can be this poorly informed about epilepsy and the impact the condition has. Clearly the condition not only affects the individual with epilepsy, but also his/her family and community, including schools.

Epilepsy is the most common neurological condition and affects one in every hundred South Africans. A variety of treatment options are available, including medication, surgery, diet modification (e.g. the ketogenic diet) and vagal nerve stimulation (VNS).

We await the outcome of the district investigation and would be pleased to liaise with the KZN Education Department to host a series of epilepsy education and awareness workshops in the province.

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