Corporal punishment robs pupil of potential career path

Katleho-Impumelelo Senior Secondary School in Sebokeng, Gauteng
Katleho-Impumelelo Senior Secondary School in Sebokeng, Gauteng

His hope of becoming a professional football player is in jeopardy after a teacher smacked him three times on the neck using a ruler.

As a result, the trauma on the neck of *Sipho Mseli, a pupil at Katleho-Impumelelo Senior Secondary School in Sebokeng, Gauteng, causes a needle prick sensation on his spine and left hand.

This was confirmed by doctors in medical reports, which City Press has seen, that Sipho’s mother, *Naledi, took him to following the incident that happened in 2017.

Sipho’s condition, Naledi said, has not changed.

It emerged this week that Gauteng was not the only province where corporal punishment, which was outlawed more than two decades ago, was still being practised.

Gauteng education spokesperson Steve Mabona had not responded to questions relating to this case and the extent of corporal punishment in schools at the time of publishing.

In Limpopo, a video emerged on social media this week of a teacher at Bopedi Bapedi Secondary in Sekhukhune South District slapping pupils in class.

Provincial education spokesperson Sam Mukondo had not responded to questions about the severity of corporal punishment in that province.

The province indicated that it would investigate.

In the Western Cape, education spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said 681 cases were reported in the past three years, resulting in the dismissal of 25 teachers. “Depending on the merit of the case, the sanction varies from a final written warning coupled with a fine. In serious assault matters, teachers were dismissed. Two matters have resulted in litigation. Both matters are pending before court.”

Northern Cape education spokesperson Geoffrey van der Merwe said 13 cases were reported in the past three years.

“The sanctions that were issued were based on the merit of each case, which differed and ranged from suspension without pay between one and three months, as well as written warnings.”

Read: Probe into pupil's death after 'sjambok beating'completed

Eastern Cape education spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima said 10 cases were reported in the past three years.

It was only in 2017/18 when there were no reports of corporal punishment.

Mtima said of the 10 cases, three were reported in 2018/19 and seven in the current financial year.

North West education spokesperson Bayanda Zenzile said there were still traits of corporal punishment in their schools in the past academic year.

“Last year, the department registered three reported cases of corporal punishment, which are pending before the court, and none for this academic year. Until the court cases are finalised, the department will be informed of guilty teachers towards this illegal act, as well as the contingency liabilities attached.”

Other provinces had not responded to questions at the time of writing.

Sipho was beaten up in front of the whole class after his class teacher caught him talking to a classmate while she was writing on the board.

He was 16 years old at the time.

He said his teacher, who continues teaching him, asked him to put his head against a desk and used a ruler to beat him on the neck three times.

Since that incident, Naledi said Sipho had not been able to stand upright for a while like before.

The sensation, Naledi said, was the reason he prefers to remain seated.

She said the teacher who had assaulted her son was only suspended for a month by the department.

Naledi’s brother, *Themba, said after the incident they had contacted the department asking for assistance, to no avail.

City Press has seen a chain of emails he sent to a department official about the matter.

The family said they feel neglected, while Sipho continues to suffer.

The school’s deputy principal, Moeketsi Mashiloane, referred questions to the Sedibeng West education district for comment

*Not their real names

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