Pupils’ panties inspected

2014-06-03 00:00

AFTER a cleaner found a used condom in a bathroom at a private school in Turffontein on Thursday, the principal immediately asked all the girls in the school to report to their classrooms and show their panties to two teachers.

Cidalia Olivier, the principal at Jordao College, informed the girls’ parents in a letter the next day that the purpose of the inspection was “clearly to identify” any blood marks stemming from participation in the alleged sexual deed.

The boys were not inspected.

The pupils wear jeans and golf shirts as their uniform.

Olivier informed the parents the two delegated teachers had acted professionally during the inspection, adding that no physical contact took place between the pupils and the two teachers during the inspection in the privacy of the classrooms.

No “clear evidence” of sexual activity was found among the female pupils.

A parent of one of the pupils said she was shocked when her daughter informed her of the inspection on Thursday.

She said she did not expect something like this from a so-called “good school” and demanded that the Human Rights Commission (HRC) investigate what she termed the violation of her daughter’s privacy. “The principal not only owes the pupils an apology, but also the parents … She must learn to treat people with respect and communicate better with the parents,” the mother said.

She said if she were the principal, she would first have contacted all the parents and asked their permission to inspect the pupils.

Olivier wrote in her letter to the parents it has always been her aim to act immediately in cases of any activity or action by staff, visitors or pupils that goes against the school’s code of conduct.

The first paragraph of the code is titled “Human Rights” and it stipulates that while pupils recognise the dignity and equality of all people, Jardao College will make use of “both positive and negative reinforcement” for those who act in an unbecoming manner. The paragraph concludes that “no individual right is greater than the group’s right”.

Olivier apologised if any pupil felt her right to privacy had been violated.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi condemned the incident in the strongest terms, but said Olivier had defended the school’s position. “The school felt what they did was correct and that it protected the child’s interests. I, however, feel differently — you do not treat a child in this manner.”

He has asked the school to again apologise to the pupils and said he will act on the recommendations of the HRC.

HRC spokesperson Isaac Mangena said they are investigating the incident, although they have not yet received an official complaint.

The school referred all media inquiries to the department.

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