Section27 wins key ruling in bid to appeal 'lenient' sanctions against teachers who beat pupils

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Section27 has been granted permission to approach the Supreme Court of Appeal over what it believes are lenient sanctions against two violent teachers.(iStock)
Section27 has been granted permission to approach the Supreme Court of Appeal over what it believes are lenient sanctions against two violent teachers.(iStock)
  • The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has granted Section27 permission to appeal what it believes are lenient sanctions against two violent teachers.
  • In 2020, a teacher hit a Grade 2 pupil on the head using a plastic pipe.
  • In Limpopo, a teacher hit a Grade 5 pupil on the head, causing the pupil's ear to bleed.
  • The two teachers pleaded guilty and were fined R5 000. They were allowed to continue to teach.

The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has given Section27 permission to appeal lenient sanctions handed down by the South African Council for Educators (SACE) against two violent teachers.

On Tuesday, Judge Dawie Fourie granted Section 27 the greenlight to file papers at the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein to appeal the sentences of the two teachers who used corporal punishment. Section27 had acted on behalf of the Centre for Child Law and two parents.

Corporal punishment was outlawed at South African schools in 1996.

In 2020, a Gauteng teacher hit a Grade 2 pupil on the head using a plastic pipe, causing stress. In Limpopo, a teacher hit a Grade 5 pupil on the head, causing the pupil's ear to bleed. The pupil repeated the academic year because of the emotional stress.

During hearings before the SACE, the teachers pleaded guilty to using corporal punishment. Despite this, they were fined R15 000, R10 000 of which was suspended. They also got their names struck off the teachers' roll but this was also suspended for 10 years.

"I am of the view that there is a reasonable prospect of success… that another court may come to a different conclusion than I did. As a result, both applications should be granted," Fourie said.

READ | Court to hear how teachers who severely assaulted pupils were given lenient sentences

"We would like the SCA to order SACE to review these sentences so that these violent teachers are no longer allowed to teach after being found guilty of corporal punishment," said Section27's Faranaaz Veriava.

"Advancing to the Supreme Court of Appeal is an important step towards better accountability for teachers who employ corporal punishment in classrooms. Despite corporal punishment being illegal since 1996, SACE continues to allow teachers to get off the hook when they are found guilty of corporal punishment.

"We need a stronger institutional response to enforce the corporal punishment ban so that classrooms are safe from violence," Veriava said after Section27 was granted leave to appeal.

"SACE has in the past sentenced very leniently and ineffectively when teachers are found guilty of corporal punishment, without addressing teachers' violent behaviour or equipping them with the strategies to implement non-violent discipline in classrooms.

"Section 27 and the Centre for Child Law believe that stronger sanctions for corporal punishment will contribute to breaking the cycle of violence which characterises many South African communities," Veriava added.



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