School initiation row

2012-03-13 00:00

A TOP netball player at a Newcastle school is under criminal investigation for duping two new team-mates into eating baby food, allegedly laced with saliva, during an initiation ceremony.

Police are investigating a case of crimen injuria against the Grade 11 pupil at Ferrum High School in the northern KZN town, amid accusations of racism.

She was also suspended from participating in sports pending the finalisation of an inquiry by the KZN Education Department.

The pupil’s mother declined to comment last night.

A Ferrum High pupil told The Witness the incident had racially polarised the school, with white pupils siding with the grade 11 pupil and black pupils backing the two new players, aged 17 and 18. She said it was not even certain that there was saliva in the baby food.

Khosi Mbuli, the mother of the 18-year-old, is a Zulu teacher at the school.

Yesterday she and other parents picketed outside the school in protest at its alleged tardiness in dealing with the matter.

Mbuli said she reported the incident to the school governing body on Thursday — the day of the incident — but no action was taken.

This was clear from a netball match on Saturday, when the girl was still playing in the team and had allegedly showed no remorse.

The initiation occurred on the school premises. Although there were three new players in the team, only the two black team-mates, were present. It was not clear why the third player was not there

An angry Mbuli said: “This is wrong. It is racism. Why was the white girl not there when they were forced to drink this Purity?

“Just because they are black they are treated this way. No, this thing needs to end.

“They planned this in their class to do it to blacks. They see nothing wrong to this thing. Some even say it’s not a big deal. They are affected psychologically.”

She said her child was traumatised and would receive counselling.

Asked whether yesterday’s protest would affect her relationship with her teaching colleagues, Mbuli said, she had acted as a parent, not a teacher.

She added that she would stay in the school and her child would finish her matric there.

“I am not going to move from this school because of this. I don’t care about what they are saying about this. I will stand for the truth and the rights of my child,” said Mbuli.

Her daughter told The Witness the incident was part of the first netball team’s initiation of new team members. “We suspected that there was something wrong as it was more liquid, but she [the top player] said it was just because it was in the sun. We drank it.

“After that one of her class-mates told us that she had spat in it in their class and mixed it. When we confronted her she denied it.

“My dignity as a human being is violated and I feel bad about this entire thing that happened to me.” She said the police had video footage of the alleged incident. Another protesting parent, who asked not to be named, said it was a very serious offence that needed to be addressed quickly.

KZN Education spokesperson Sihle Mhlotshwa said the principal informed the department of the event on Friday. He could not comment further until the investigation was completed.

Ferrum headmaster W.F. Swanepoel said he could not give any information while the district office was investigating.

National Association of Schools Governing Bodies’ chairperson Reginald Chiliza said that if the claims were true, “such incidents are undermining black people’s dignity. Maybe this is an influence from home — or she was just being a naughty child.”

Provincial police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed a crimen injuria case was being investigated.

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