School sex row

2010-10-25 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL Education MEC Senzo Mchunu has promised to intervene after two Ladysmith High School pupils were expelled for having sex in the boy’s toilets last Monday.

A prefect caught the grade 9 girl and grade 12 boy, whose names are withheld, in the act and informed a school teacher who then reported the matter to the principal, Dr Ettiene Liversage.

The principal is said to have suspended the two, but the mother of the girl said her child was expelled.

On Thursday the principal wrote letters to all the parents of pupils in the school informing them about the matter.

In the letters he named the pupils, identifying them in a way which left some parents feeling that he was being racist.

The Witness has a copy of the letter, dated October 21.

The second paragraph of the letter reads: On Monday, October 18, two black learners [naming them], did not arrive at their respective classes after second break.

“Instead they met in a boys’ toilet where they engaged in sexual intercourse. This was a premeditated act as the boy brought a condom to school for this purpose.”

It is alleged that some pupils tore the letters at the school gates.

On Friday morning at the assembly, Dr Liversage is alleged to have challenged those who tore up the letters to reveal themselves, stressing that he was talking to the “black learners”.

When none did so he allegedly told them that they were black cowards.

Mchunu said the matter needs to be dealt with carefully because he believes that the principal knows the procedure to handle such matters.

“If this is true and that the letters exist, and that the learner is not suspended but expelled, then we have a problem.

“Only the superintendent-general has the power to expel. I don’t know the relevance of the colour to the behaviour of the children. It is totally unacceptable for learners to behave like that at school. However, if this is true, we will take quite a strong view on this matter. The children’s future and wellbeing cannot be compromised in this manner,” said Mchunu.

The matter, which is already posted on social networks such as Toilet and Facebook, will be investigated.

The girl’s mother said she is not taking the matter lying down.

“The children were out of line and they had to be disciplined. But I don’t approve when my child is identified on her racial status and worst of all, for the principal to go public with their names.

“Who’s going to accept her in their school when they know what she has done?

“I’m taking this matter further because my child’s skin colour doesn’t make her any different from the rest of the children,” said the mother, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child.

Emnambithi/Ladysmith Municipal Mayor Councillor Dudu Mazibuko said she has been receiving phone calls frequently from concerned parents who want to know what will be done about the matter and saying that the principal had no right to go public with the names of the pupils, especially the girl.

“The children behaved badly and it was right for the principal to inform the parents. But naming them was way out of line and his tone in the letter is viewed as a racial line by many.

“One wonders what’s going to become of the girl because I’m sure by now some teachers from other schools have already got wind of this. Who’s going to take her in their school knowing what she has done?” said the mayor.

She said the Schools’ Act provides for expelled pupils to be placed in alternative schools.

Another parent said the sex issue is not new at the school, but it has been treated in a hush-hush manner because it involves “learners of the other race”.

Attempts to get to Dr Liversage were unsuccessful. The school’s deputy principal, Mr Christo Pieterse, yesterday advised this reporter to phone the principal today. “I don’t think it will be fair for me to give you his number so call the school and make an appointment,” he said.

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