Matters heating up

2019-02-12 06:00

Both the teacher and the learner from San Souci Girls’ High in Newlands, who are involved in the circulating video have been suspended pending investigations.

The incident shows an argument between a teacher and a Grade 9 learner inside the classroom during school hours. The incident happened on Tuesday 5 February.

In the video the teacher slaps the learner after what appears to be an argument. They both shove a desk against each other before the teacher slaps the learner.

According to the commander for Claremont Police Station, Colonel Marie Louw, both the teacher and the learner have opened cases against each other.

Louw says the teacher was formally charged with common assault on Friday 8 February and is due to appear in court on Wednesday 27 February.

“The learner will be charged soon,” adds Louw.

According to what can be heard from the video, the argument started when the learner indicated she did not have a specific book for which the teacher had asked.

Apparently the learner also had a cellphone in her hands, which the teacher later grabbed twice during the argument.

The teacher can be seen pulling and pushing the learner’s desk, ordering her to leave the class. However, the learner refuses to do so, firstly telling the teacher to not shout at her, but later pushed the desk towards the teacher’s legs and grabbed her phone.

It is still unclear whether this was the first time such an incident had occurred as there have been reports of learners having held a demonstration in support of the teacher in question.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) confirmed the learner and the educator are not at school.

Bronagh Hammond, the provincial spokesperson says: “They have both been informed by the SGB that disciplinary steps will be taken against them. The WCED does not condone the use of any violence in our schools. They have been suspended pending the disciplinary hearing. All learners and educators have been offered counselling. The school is investigating various programmes to offer their educators on the management of discipline.”

The SGB issued a statement the following day acknowledging the incident.

“We are well aware of the extremely disturbing incidents that occurred in one of our classes and have initiated the remedial processes as prescribed by the School’s Code of Conduct and within the framework of the South African Schools Act,” the statement reads. “After due consultation with all stakeholders, both parties involved will be dealt with in accordance with the law in a fair and transparent process. The school is continuing with the normal academic and extra-mural programmes.”

Debbie Schäfer the minister for education in the Western Cape, said the teacher had been appointed by the SGB, which would handle the disciplinary process.

“Learners in the class have been asked to make a statement regarding the events that led up to the incident. There is further video evidence that has been edited out of the version being circulated.

“I am aware that some commentators on social media platforms are immediately assuming that the incident is race related. While I understand their anger at the images displayed on the edited version of the video, we cannot assume that this was racially motivated.

“We ask that the public allow the SGB to investigate the incident before such conclusions are made.”

Schäfer added that the department is aware of the challenges faced by teachers in schools and also acknowledged the protest by the learners in favour of the teacher.

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