A teacher at the Ieglaasi Nieyah primary school in Beacon Valley is under police investigation for charges of common assault and has been suspended from the school. Parents of the learners laid charges at the local police station after they received reports of alleged corporal punishment. The incident came to light after a student spoke to a teacher about “a disturbing incident” which occurred in the classroom.
The school’s advisor Ganief Hendricks said a written complaint had been lodged with the School Governing Body that the teacher in question was using corporal punishment to discipline the children. The SGB took a decision to suspect the teacher with compensation while the matter was being investigated. It later emerged that parents had lodged complaints with police after which the teacher was charged released on R500 bail. The educator is also involved with a mosque in Mitchell’s Plain.
Following a meeting with the teacher, Hendricks said the SGB subsequently decided that he should be suspended without pay, given the seriousness of the case.
“We have reason to believe the educator may have just wanted to give the children a scare, when he aimed at their legs. If a boy was ill-disciplined, he would warn them to stop their unruly behaviour. According to him, he would use his hands, but his intention was not to make physical contact with the boy, but just aim,” Hendricks explained.
Section 10(1) the South African Schools Act states that no person may administer corporal punishment at a school against a learner. The school’s position is that if educators are non-compliant with the law, the parents should lay a charge.
“Once the case number was revealed and he appeared in court, we took action. But there is a process. The educator will be counselled and there will be a final warning and he will apply in a disciplinary hearing. The teacher has been charged and we are waiting for the law to take its course.”
The educator has been at the school for a year and this is the first time such complaints have come to the fore. The school principal has met with parents and educators concerned and trauma counselling has been provided.
Hendricks said the remedial action proposed was that a male teacher be appointed to teach the boys and a female teacher assigned to the girl learners.
Shaykh Fadhiel Emandien from the social welfare department at the Muslim Judicial Council said they have been in contact with the officiating imam at the masjid in question, and it was confirmed that the imam is not an assistant imam.
“He is haafithul Quran and leads salah from time to time, but does not hold the title of assistant imam,” he said.
Asked whether corporal punishment was a problem in Muslim schools, Emandien said the MJC has regular workshops with the Islamic schools under its jurisdiction on administration, educational matters and disciplinary issues.
He added that the ulema body had been given training in an international child protection workshop, which led to the formation of a child protection framework, with the aim of implementation at local madaris and Islamic schools.
“We understand that coming from a different generation, some teachers have a certain way of discipline and teaching. But this is a different time where that is no longer applicable. And there are certain measures that must be implemented to discipline our youth.”
Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said they could not comment because the school is an independent school. She said the SGB was mandated to deal with the matter. VOC