Slapped Sans Souci pupil says she doesn't want to go back to 'toxic' school

2019-02-27 17:25
Sans Souci Girls High School teacher Clarissa Venter receives support outside the Wynberg Magistrate's Court. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Sans Souci Girls High School teacher Clarissa Venter receives support outside the Wynberg Magistrate's Court. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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The pupil who was slapped by her teacher at Sans Souci Girls’ High School says she never wants to go back to the institution again.

"It’s toxic. It’s not a safe space for anyone to be, because if you don’t bow down to what they have to say - whether it’s right or wrong - you are then [considered] disrespectful. You are victimised, bullied and treated badly."

But her mother insists she has not yet decided whether she will remove her daughter, because they "first need to clear this up".

The 16-year-old appeared in camera in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday on an assault charge. A few courtrooms away, teacher Clarissa Venter faced the same charge in open proceedings, where the case against her was postponed to April 18.

Venter declined the opportunity to comment.

The teenager’s matter was heard in closed court.

It was her first time in a courtroom, the girl said. The experience was "very scary", although her mother and lawyer were with her during proceedings.

Her case was postponed to April 1 for further investigation.

'Treat my child like she is yours'

It was upsetting for her to see her child in the dock, the woman told News24.

"It’s not nice for any parent to see your child going through all this. I’m trying to protect her from everything," she said.

But her child was strong - "her mother’s daughter".

She said she believed she had done the right thing by laying a criminal charge against the teacher, after viewing the video which had gone viral on social media.

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

"When we were at school [there was corporal punishment]... You stand, there’s a cane, you get a hiding. You hold on to an iron bar [to cool down your hand] and that is it. When I looked at the video, I was very upset because, in my day… never did a teacher slap you through the face and grab you by the chest. What does the teacher expect you to do when they do that?" she asked.

"I am not saying that when my child is wrong she should not be reprimanded, but treat my child like she is yours. She is under your protections when she is at that school. Treat her fairly.

"Likewise, I expect [my daughter] to treat her teachers with the utmost respect, that she gives me as a parent."

'I was very hurt by what happened'

As a professional, the mother maintains the teacher should have handled the situation in an acceptable manner.

After the alleged assault, the girl claimed that school staff were more concerned with the crying teacher, and didn’t show sympathy towards her.

She contacted her mother, who had also already been phoned by the school.

Her mother said she was told that her daughter had been in a fight.

"I [told my mother], I wasn't in a fight. I didn't hit back. The only thing I did was push," the pupil insisted.

The girl said she was hurt that there were people who considered it "okay" for her to have been slapped.

"School is supposed to be a safe place for kids to go. It’s where you spend most of your time. Your teacher is like your mother. I was very hurt by what happened. I still am."

'One learner's opinion'

The Western Cape Education Department however said it had not received any allegations or complaints of victimisation, bullying or ill-treatment of pupils at Sans Souci in the past year.

"The School has a code of conduct which is signed by learners when they enrol at the school. Learners are disciplined if they do not adhere to the code of conduct," Bronagh Hammond, provincial education department spokesperson said.

"This is the opinion of one learner, which she is entitled to. However, there has been ongoing support for the school from learners on various social media platforms. I am not aware of any similar complaints as referred to below."

The department was aware of certain allegations regarding the current disciplinary process regarding the specific learner, but could not comment on those allegations as the process was ongoing.

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