Department vows to get to bottom of incident
The Department of Education has vowed to launch an independent investigation into De Vos Malan Primary School after a video showing several pupils lining up to receive a whack with a wooden stick emerged.
The video, taken by a peer of the five boys receiving the lashings, surfaced earlier this month after a pupil sent it to a teacher at the Port Elizabeth school, hoping the issue would be addressed.
However, the teacher, who asked not be named, said he forwarded the video to The Herald last week after realising that “nothing is going to change if it is not dealt with at higher level than the school management”.
The 25-second video sees a Grade 7 teacher at the Schauderville school whacking a group of boys on their behinds with a wooden stick.
The woman teacher casually makes her way through the group of boys, calling them individually to receive a lashing.
The pupils can be seen cringing almost immediately after being whacked, with one pupil told to remove his bag, to avoid any obstruction while she gives him a hiding.
While it is unclear exactly when and why the incident occurred, the unidentified teacher who forwarded the video said it took place late last year during exams, according to the pupils involved.
He said the Grade 7 teacher enforcing the corporal punishment was known for dishing out whacks.
The man said corporal punishment was a prominent means of disciplining pupils at the school.
“It has been reiterated on several occasions during our daily staff meetings that corporal punishment is not allowed,” he said.
“However, in the same breath, the principal will tell us that he doesn’t mind corporal punishment taking place as long as we [teachers] don’t get caught.
“Several of the staff and pupils are not happy about the situation, but what can we do?
“When we raise our concerns, it is just swept under the rug.”
Principal Jonathan Jansen said he would address the issue with the teacher involved now that the matter had been brought to his attention.
“This is the first time I have heard about this incident,” he said.
“Corporal punishment is not something we endorse at the school. Our hands are tied in terms of discipline.
“We can’t even send pupils out of class, so they are sent to detention.”
A Grade 7 pupil, who asked not to be named, said corporal punishment was regularly meted out.
“The teachers regularly hit us at school for not doing homework, making a noise or coming late to class,” the pupil said.
“I wasn’t in their class so I’m not sure what happened.
“But I heard the boys in the video were making a noise in class and they were late for class so the teacher decided to discipline them.
“And because the stick is so thin, she [teacher] doesn’t even have to hit hard for it to burn.”
After receiving the video, education spokesman Loyiso Pulumani said an investigation would be launched.
“This is completely unacceptable,” he said.
“The department has been consistent in condemning the use of corporal punishment as it is contrary to the South African Schools Act.
“I’m going to forward this video to our panel of independent investigators to institute an immediate investigation to get to the bottom of this.”