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Corporal punishment or self-defence?

12 February 2019, 10:42

The video clip of a teacher smacking a learner has gone viral on social media and many have blamed the teacher who holds a School Governing Body (SGB) post for applying corporal punishment. According to the WCED only the SGB, and not the WCED, has the right to fire or retain the teacher.

Section 10(1) of the South African Schools Act of 1996 stipulates that “no person may administer corporal punishment at a school to a learner”. And according to section 10(2) “any person who contravenes this, is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a sentence which could be imposed for assault”. 

Further, corporal or physical punishment is defined as a punishment intended to cause physical pain on a person. For the teacher to be guilty of administering corporal punishment to the learner, one has to first establish whether the smacking by the teacher was consistent with corporal punishment.

Evidence in the clip reflects that the teacher did not “intend” to cause physical pain to the learner. The clip clearly proves that the teacher responded after experiencing pain when the learner pushed the wooden desk top with a great force against the female teacher’s upper thigh. At this point in time, the scene of learner and teacher changed to that of a young female learner attacking an older teacher. The teacher’s response was consistent with that of someone who was under attack and she responded instinctively to defend herself. 

It seems that no one, including the WCED, is not supporting the teacher for her actions to defend herself. In a court of law the teacher cannot be fired for applying corporal punishment since none was administered. In conclusion, visualize this scene. A teacher hit the knife out of the hand of her attacker with a board-duster fracturing his finger. Did she administer corporal punishment? You be the judge.

Adiel Ismail

Mount View

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