A mathematics teacher – who was stabbed three times by a pupil after an argument about the boy’s hair – has failed to convince the Pretoria High Court that she deserves damages as a result of the incident.
The teacher, Thandi Ndala (33), was claiming R2.75 million from the education minister, the Gauteng education department and the school’s governing body over the incident.
The court found that Ndala could not claim damages from education authorities because she had already claimed damages from the Compensation Commission for occupational injury.
Ndala had argued that an attack by a pupil was not an occupational injury because it was not something that happened in the ordinary course of a teacher’s service.
She contended that the governing body and the education department should have done more to protect her against such an attack.
The pupil attacked Ndala in her classroom at the Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa Secondary School in Winterveld, outside Pretoria.
Judge Joseph Raulinga, in his judgment, said the pupil was chastised by another teacher because his hair did not comply with the school’s code of conduct.
When the pupil was confronted about it, he went home to get a knife and then returned to school.
The other teacher involved went to call the pupil, who was in Ndala’s class at that time.
On his way out he stabbed her three times in the shoulder while she was sitting in her chair.
Subsequently, the child stabbed the school’s gardener.
He also chased the teacher who had complained about his hair before other pupils managed to apprehend him.
All three adults were taken to hospital.
Neo Maimane, the school’s principal, said in a report submitted to court, that the child had secretly fetched the knife from his home.
When he returned he was noticed by the gate guard and patrollers, one of whom followed him.
“It did not occur to them that the boy would cause any trouble, but one of the patrollers followed him. But she was too late to prevent the attack on Ndala,” he said.
The police arrived shortly afterwards and the pupil was taken into custody.
Raulinga found that the education authorities had not been negligent.
He found that the attack was still considered an occupational injury, even though it had involveda crime.
According to a psychological report before the court, Ndala suffered from post traumatic stress as a result of the incident.
The school referred all questions about the incident to the Gauteng education department, which did not respond to enquiries.
Ndala laid a charge against the pupil with the police the day after the incident.
Hlahla Attorneys in Pretoria, who represented Ndala, said the child was criminally charged, but that it was not clear what had become of the criminal investigation.
Ndala obtained a transfer to another school in February 2015.
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