Principal cleared in pupil assault

2011-10-09 14:27

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Cape Town - No charges will be laid against a Khayelitsha principal following the assault of a matric pupil at a Cape Town high school last month, the Western Cape education department said on Sunday.

"The [labour relations] directorate studied all the evidence carefully and found there are no grounds for charging the principal with misconduct," spokesperson Paddy Attwell said in a statement.

Two Bambanani volunteer security guards allegedly assaulted 18-year-old Malibongwe Malani at Chris Hani High School in Khayelitsha in front of the school's principal on September 22. He was admitted to the Tygerberg Hospital.

Hospital spokesperson Laticia Pienaar said she could not divulge the nature of his injuries, but added he was stable and "doing better" after an operation on Thursday, September 29.

Malani allegedly refused to allow the security guards to search him for a cellphone, as the school did not allow pupils to bring them into exams.

Protests

The following Monday, pupils protested at the school, breaking windows, doors and furniture and damaging teachers’ cars, Attwell said.

"The learners accused the principal of being responsible for the assault and chased him from the school."

Attwell said the principal, Madoda Mahlutshana, denied ordering the attack, and said he intervened to stop the assault.

"The department of community safety, which employs Bambanani guards, is investigating the role of the guards allegedly involved in the assault. The police are investigating criminal charges," Attwell said.

The director of the metropole east education district, Melvyn Caroline, led a team of investigators who looked at every aspect of the incident. The team interviewed Malani, Mahlutshana, the guards, witnesses and a surgeon who treated the pupil.

Underlying tension

Even though Mahlutshana was not found guilty, investigators found underlying tension between him, certain staff members and pupils, Attwell said.

Caroline would head a task team responsible for advising the principal and working with the school governing body, staff and children to ensure an effective teaching and learning environment.

The work would include healing relationships and teaching pupils the importance of the "rule of law" and due process in resolving disputes.

"The priority must now be to ensure order and calm at the school, especially as learners prepare for their end-of-year exams."

Caroline discussed the department’s findings with the school governing body on Thursday, and the governing body organised a meeting with parents at the school at 14:00 on Sunday. He would address children at an assembly at the start of the fourth term on Monday.

- SAPA

Read more on:    cape town  |  child abuse  |  education
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