School faces abuse claim

2015-09-21 08:54
Several disabled children allegedly sleep on concrete floor at boarding houses that service Sisizakele Special School in northern KZN. This picture was sent to the DoE by a teacher at the school.

Several disabled children allegedly sleep on concrete floor at boarding houses that service Sisizakele Special School in northern KZN. This picture was sent to the DoE by a teacher at the school. (Supplied)

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A SERIES of serious allegations made by a special needs teacher against a northern KZN school have been rubbished by the KZN Department of Education.

Whistleblower Musa Mathenjwa, a teacher at the school, said he had no option but to approach the media after his complaints and letters to senior officials went unanswered.

The name of the school is known to The Witness but is not being published to protect the children concerned.

The Education Department said it had looked into the allegations after receiving questions from The Witness, but spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said they found no substance in Mathenjwa’s claims.

Mathenjwa sent his grievance to several media houses across South Africa.

His claims, detailed in a letter sent to the KZN Department of Education on August 12, included:

•There is corporal punishment and gross abuse of children at the school;

•All the pupils are considered uneducable, even though that is not the case;

•There are pupils who do not receive any education at all beca

use there is no teacher who is qualified to teach them. e.g. blind and hard of hearing pupils;

•The curriculum is weak, holding back the potential of strong pupils;

•There is no record keeping of which children take what medication; and

•Donations are “systematically disappearing”.

Mlotshwa said their investigation, which took little under a week to complete, established there was “no evidence of corporal punishment and abuse”.

“Learners learn at different paces and are all supported according to their needs. The infrastructure is world-class, with 15 classrooms, two hostels, an administration block, halls and multi-purpose centre. The school choir has just qualified for a national competition, which speaks to the functionality at the school,” he said.

However, Mathenjwa, calling the school a “place of horrors”, claimed in the letter, seen by The Witness, to have “raised these complaints” with the school and the department district office in Mkuze. “But nothing has come out of it,” he said.

“The name of the Education Department will undoubtedly be dragged into disrepute by what is happening in this school and this is why I believe these matters are serious and do require your urgent attention,” he said in his plea to the department’s head office in Pietermaritzburg.

The letter said “school corporal punishment and gross abuse is the norm”, with “disabled children … beaten and grossly abused from the boarding houses where most reside”.

He said he had photographic evidence of two children, one autistic with “severe mental retardation and epilepsy”, and the other with “severe mental retardation and epilepsy”, being forced to sleep on the concrete floor with no blanket. Other pupils had taken the photos for him, he said.

“I have taken special leave. Right now I am not in a condition to teach or be at school. I am seeing a psychologist in the meantime. I can’t work when children are being abused. It creates more barriers for the children,” he said.

Mathenjwa added that district education officials had criticised his writing to the department’s head office.

“I had no alternative. No one was listening here,” he said.

DA MPL Mbali Thusi said a probe into the allegations was necessary.

“We don’t want to live in a society where children are abused and unable to reach their potential,” she said, adding her party would raise the matter through other channels and visit the school

Read more on:    kwa-zulu natal  |  school  |  abuse

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