Video footage showing a pupil being manhandled by a teacher holding a stick-like object has emerged in the wake of allegations of physical abuse at a Port Elizabeth school.
Paterson High School in Schauderville has said that three incidents reported by two parents have been dealt with, but the parents have accused the principal and Department of Education of sweeping the incidents under the carpet.
And while school principal Dr Sivan Pillay insists the district department was satisfied with how the matter was handled by the school, provincial education spokesman Malibongwe Mtima said this week that was not the case and the matter had been referred back to the school for further investigation.
Two concerned parents said they knew of three incidents at the school this year involving two teachers who had allegedly assaulted pupils.
They said they had tried to communicate their grievances to Pillay ever since the first incident earlier this year, but to no avail, and had since exhausted other avenues to have the matter more thoroughly addressed.
While one parent said he had witnessed two of the alleged incidents, Weekend Post also received video footage of the third, showing a Grade 10 pupil being manhandled in a classroom by a teacher holding the object.
The parents said despite repeated letters to Pillay and officials at the Port Elizabeth district department requesting action be taken, only one teacher had received a written warning.
But Pillay vehemently denied this, saying the matter had been dealt with adequately and the education authorities were satisfied with the action.
One of the parents, Werner Holland, 45, of Korsten, who serves on the school governing board (SGB), accused the department and Pillay of taking sides with the teachers.
“The principal said he would investigate the matters but instead he came back saying that when it comes to managing the teachers, he has the prerogative to sanction department teachers,” he said.
“I told him that I represent the community and I cannot keep quiet as a parent if pupils are being assaulted.”
Another parent, who did not want to be named, said he had witnessed two incidents at the school this year.
He said during the first, he had seen a pupil running towards the school gate being chased by a teacher, Shaun Fondling. He alleged that when Fondling caught hold of the pupil, he smacked the child in the face twice.
In the other incident, he said pupils had allegedly been harassing a teacher and another teacher was walking them to the principal’s office.
“This teacher then kicked one pupil from behind on his behind.”
Holland said: “It was only after I learned about the third incident that I decided to go to the department.”
Regarding this incident, captured on video, Holland said he understood the pupil involved had shouted at Fondling and was making jokes about him while he was on the rugby field.
“Fondling apparently heard the pupil and then stormed into the classroom carrying a stick or a pipe and confronted the pupil.”
Holland said Pillay had informed him Fondling had received a “final written warning” as a result.
“How can a teacher receive a written warning for assaulting a child?”
Pillay said the department was satisfied with the action taken but declined to give details.
“Paterson, like many schools, has challenges when it comes to discipline. We have children here who are under the effects of drugs and on occasion teachers have to chase the kids. However we do not condone hitting or abusing the children,” he said.
Fondling declined to comment. Weekend Post could not verify the identity of the other teacher allegedly involved.
Mtima said the SGB had not come forward as a complainant but wanted fairness in the teachers’ sanction.
He said the matter would be referred back to the school.