A 10-year-old child is traumatised after the principal at his Dimbaza school in the Eastern Cape allegedly forced him to walk around the building naked as punishment.
“I was stripped naked and forced to walk from one classroom to another.
“I was crying. I felt embarrassed and hid my private parts with my hands,” said the Masikhanyise Primary School pupil.
The boy, from Pirie location, was speaking to the Dispatch this week about the incident, which took place at his school last month.
Acting on the instructions of their school principal, a group of Grade 7 boys had grabbed the defenceless boy, stripped him naked and forced him to do a door-to-door parade at his school, starting from Grade R to Grade 7.
The 30-minute ordeal happened a day after he allegedly dangled a fellow pupil over a bridge.
For this alleged transgression he was punished and humiliated.
“I was in class when I was told that the principal wanted to see me. She asked if the accusations were true. I told her we were just playing and I did not even lift her, I just pushed her a little. She said I was not telling the truth and she called older boys to strip me naked,” he said.
The boy said as he was hiding his private parts with his hands, the school principal ordered other pupils to stop him from doing so.
“I then started crying. They dragged me … I was humiliated,” he said.
Children’s rights organisations have strongly condemned the principal’s actions.
Khula Community Development Project director Petros Majola said what the school principal had done was “unacceptable” and violated the rights of the pupil.
“The principal dragged the dignity of that child through the mud.
“This boy’s rights were violated by the same person who is supposed to respect and protect them. That is emotional abuse and it will haunt that boy for the rest of his life,” he said.
Majola said they had written to the department of education demanding an explanation.
Sinethemba Ndleleni of Equal Education said there were other channels that should have been followed to deal with whatever the boy did, instead of humiliating him.
“His rights were violated and we strongly speak against it,” he said.
The Human Rights Commission is also investigating the case.
Provincial manager Abongile Sipondo confirmed that they received and registered the complaint of the matter.
“We take these allegations seriously, and we are in the process of investigating the matter,” he said.
The community of Pirie, where the incident happened, has labelled the act as “pure witchcraft”.
A Pirie resident said she was shocked when her seven-year-old grandchild told her that she saw a naked person at her school.
“Upon further investigation I learnt that what she was saying was true. I have never heard such evil in my life,” said the woman, who did not want to reveal her name for fear her grandchild might be victimised.
Another community member said: “There is no delete button here. The trauma caused to that child will remain with him forever.”
A Grade 1 pupil told the Dispatch that the boy was crying when he arrived in their classroom. “Our teacher told him to go away, to get dressed, he just cried,” she said.
The boy did not go to school for two days and on the third day, the principal asked the boy’s grandmother to persuade him to come back.
“I want harsh action taken against the principal. My child was abused and humiliated. He will be traumatised for the rest of his life,” the mother of the child said.
She said no matter what the child did, he did not deserve to be treated like that. “The very same person who is supposed to protect our children is the one to abuse them,” she said.
Captain Siphokazi Mawisa said a case was opened at Dimbaza police station but it was transferred to King William’s Town for the family violence, child protection and sexual offences unit to investigate.
“This office cannot divulge more on this case as it is sensitive and involves a minor, but investigation is continuing. As soon the investigation is complete it will be taken to court for a decision,” she said.
Provincial education spokesman Malibongwe Mtima said upon hearing about the matter they dispatched an official to counsel the victim and other pupils. He said the matter was under investigation and they were still waiting for the report.
“At the moment we cannot comment further until we have received the report,” he said.