Sans Souci saga: School, dept picking teacher's side, slapped pupil's lawyers charge

2019-02-22 20:09
(Screengrab of the incident)

(Screengrab of the incident)

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Legal representatives of a pupil slapped by her Afrikaans teacher in class have accused Sans Souci Girls High School and the Western Cape department of education of being biased in favour of the employee.

Their actions following the "verbal abuse and assault" of the teenager have been appalling, legal representative Yolisa Nocanda of the Chamber of Legal Students said.

The chamber would be approaching Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to request an independent and impartial investigation into the incident as well as the response to it by the school and the provincial education department.

READ: Slapped Sans Souci pupil lodges Equality Court complaint against teacher, school governing body

Nocanda claimed that the school allowed pupils who protested in favour of the teacher time off from their classes to do so, while children who were against her actions were "told to stay away from the issue and focus on their schooling".

"There have been other forms of harassment of such students by some teachers and senior learners. This has created an atmosphere of intimidation and fear at the school."

He said it was disturbing that information only the school was privy to, such as personal information and unsubstantiated claims of wrongdoing, had "inexplicably found its way into the public domain".

"A society founded at its foundation on democracy, freedom and dignity should not have to tolerate punishment as archaic and barbaric as a physical attack. From the onset, it was evident that the school governing body, represented by its disciplinary committee, acted with blatant disregard for due process and thereby subjected the learner to secondary harassment."

School accused of contravening regulations

Nocanda said the teenager's legal team had repeatedly requested documentation to prepare for the disciplinary hearing but had still not received enough to do so.

"This is not only in contravention of the school's own code of conduct and the Schools Act, but also the Constitution. This is one of the reasons why the learner's legal team requested a postponement sine die (indefinitely) at the disciplinary hearing that was scheduled for [Thursday] night as well as the upliftment of the postponement of the learner.

"Meanwhile the learner remains suspended without psychological or sufficient academic support by the school in violation of the Schools Act and regulations which stipulate that a suspension can be no longer than five school days." 

The pupil has been suspended for 14 days.

READ: Sans Souci disciplinary hearing: Pupil's suspension upheld

Western Cape education department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said in terms of regulations, if disciplinary proceedings are not conducted within seven schools days after the suspension of the pupil, the governing body must obtain approval for the continuation of the suspension.

"The total period of suspension of a learner from a school shall not be longer than 21 school days. In this case, the school applied for a continuation of the suspension and this was approved," she confirmed.

"The learner was served with the suspension notice on February 7, and started receiving work on February 13 – two actual school days later. This would have been sent on February 12 but the school had its sports day on this day."

Hammond said the department would wait for the outcome of the disciplinary hearings and could not comment on allegations regarding the process while it was ongoing.

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