Teachers in the dock

2012-03-22 00:00

A BOY at a school in southern KwaZulu-Natal was so badly caned by his teachers that he was partly castrated, it emerged this week.

Corporal punishment is outlawed in South African schools, but this apparently did not stop four teachers at Nsikeni High School in Umzimkulu from beating the boy in January.

The story emerged only after the boy’s aunt contacted The Witness this week and convinced him to talk to the media.

KZN Education MEC Senzo Mchunu said his department was aware that teachers in the province continued to flout the law by using corporal punshiment.

“We are aware that there are teachers who continue to discipline their students in such a manner, but we want to add that those who do, do so at their own risk.

“We as the department want to tell all teachers to desist and stop using this corporal punishment, and use other forms of discipline,” Mchunu added.

Police spokesperson Thulani Zwane confirmed yesterday that that a case of assault had been opened last month at the Nsikeni police station.

“Four teachers have since been arrested.”

He could not say when they would appear in court.

The South African Demcoratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) said yesterday that the four teachers — one permanent, two part-timers and an intern — had since resigned.

Sadtu regional secretary Lindani Mkhize said the union had just learned about the incident.

“As Sadtu we disagree with corporal punishment as it is against the law according to the South African Schools Act [of 1996].

“We always inform our members that corporal punishment is a serious Section 17 offence that can be punishable with straight dismissal.”

The union’s provincial deputy secretary, Dolly Caluza, said the four were not members of Sadtu.

She confirmed that the union was aware that corporal punishment was still practised at some schools in KZN.

Speaking to The Witness, the pupil described how he had been punished.

“I received 12 lashes on my bum and three in my hand.

“At the time I felt that something had happened to my private parts.”

The teenager said he was not angry or surprised at the way he was treated that day because it was “normal practice” at the school. “They punish you in groups,” he said.

He woke up that night with a pain in his genitals.

A Kokstad doctor later found blood clots blocking his circulation. “He said there were complications and I needed to go to hospital urgently.

“I went to the Kokstad Hospital and was transferred to Edendale Hospital for my operation and spent three days there.”

The teenager said he was punished after another pupil had reported to a teacher that he and others had been calling him names.

The pupils had been discussing the issue of an animal attacking people at night in Nsikeni.

“Three of us who were discussing the story were called to the teachers.

“They did not ask us what was happening, they just started beating us,” the teenager claimed.

He said the operation had drastically changed his life.

“I am no longer playing soccer and doing weight-lifting as I have had to be cautious not to be touched on my private parts.

“My dream of becoming a soldier is fading.

“I have to think again about what I would like to be now as it seems as if I am a new person.”

He said he was his family’s hope as he was the only son and was already taking care of the household, having lost his father when he was nine months old.

“I am no longer a man as I will not be able to build my family.

Because of this my pride and dignity have been violated,” the boy said.

“Even though I want to forget about this incident, the scars on my body remind me of what has happened as I no longer feel the other testicle.”

When The Witness contacted the Nsikeni High School headmaster, Andile Nhlangulela, on his cellphone, he said he was no longer the school’s principal and that the incident had happened just after he had left.

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