Teacher tells how she was kicked and hit by pupil
‘I fear for my life because of a child’
A primary school teacher is petrified to return to her classroom after being kicked in the stomach, pushed onto desks and threatened with a pair of scissors – allegedly by a Grade 7 pupil.
Despite the shocking incident at the Alpha Primary School in Gelvandale last week, which has been reported to police, no disciplinary action has been taken yet against the 15-year-old alleged perpetrator, who continues to attend class.
Teacher Vera Jewell, 59, who has been booked off work until the end of August for stress, sustained a neck injury when she was assaulted while trying to stop the boy from allegedly attacking a fellow pupil.
She may have to be off from work even longer.
“I am not prepared to go back to school if this is not sorted out properly – I am fearing for my life because of a child,” Jewell said.
“I am at my wits’ end with him and no-one is doing anything.
“Having to go to school knowing he is walking around trying to intimidate not only me, but other children, is not right.”
The boy’s name is being withheld as he is a minor.
A meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday with the school governing body chair and deputy, the principal, the boy’s parents and Jewell.
The incident on Tuesday last week took place shortly after midday in Jewell’s classroom, during break time.
Jewell, who has been teaching for 24 years and has been at Alpha for a decade, said she had not experienced anything like it during her 10 years at the school.“The parents don’t know what goes on at our school,” she said.
“The other children are living in fear because of this boy and his little group of friends, who [allegedly] go around bullying the other children and taking their money for ‘protection fees’ on the playgrounds.
“Last Tuesday, I had a free period before second break and one of the girls asked to fetch her bag in the classroom, so I gave her the keys.
“But when I went to see why she was taking so long, I saw this boy holding her up against the cupboard and I tapped him on his shoulder and shouted at him to let her go,” she said.
Jewell said the boy then became aggressive towards her.
“He left the girl and [allegedly] kicked me in my stomach, so when I staggered backwards I grabbed the broomstick to fight him off and that’s when he pushed me and I fell on top of the desks.”
Jewell said as the boy was about to punch her, a teacher from another class intervened.
She reported the matter to the principal, Dr Charlotte Hendricks, shortly afterwards.
Jewell said as she then went to her car, she heard pupils shouting frantically at her to get in the car and leave.
“I was in such a daze because this boy was approaching me [allegedly] with scissors in his hands to stab me.
“This has been coming on a long time now. His behaviour changed since last year and he became more aggressive towards the other pupils.
“So this year, when I started teaching him he would just get up out of my class to go and smack another child or he would just walk out when he felt like it.
“His parents were called in several times this year but nothing is being done.
“When we send him to the principal’s office, nothing gets done.”
Jewell said she had asked Hendricks to address the boy’s behaviour and even suggested that former prison inmates – who have managed to turn their lives around – be approached to speak to the boy.
“We could have rehabilitated him a long time ago for the sake of the other children because it is not on that other parents’ children must now live in fear because of a few delinquents.
“Bullying other children and stealing their taxi fare is criminal,” she said.
“These kids from outside the area have to then either walk home or borrow money from other children.”
Hendricks said the matter was being investigated, and declined to comment further.The boy’s mother said: “There’s a meeting tomorrow [Wednesday] where we will discuss all of this. I have no comment.”
Jewell reported the matter to the department of education and opened a case at the Gelvandale police station.
Police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu confirmed that a case of assault was being investigated.
Provincial education spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima said a full report on the investigation would be made available on Friday.
“As per the report we got from the EDO [education district office] responsible and the district director, they have sent a team to the school who are meant to provide a solution and talk to everyone involved, which includes the pupil’s parents, teachers and SGB members so that we can find an amicable solution,” he said.
“We want a situation where this pupil will be able to transform as he is still young, while informing him on what is right and what is wrong and, of course, protecting the teacher.”
School governing body deputy chair Isaac Jantjies said: “I am aware of the incident and we are conducting a hearing tomorrow [Wednesday].”