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Pupil, 5, beaten with ‘thorny stick’

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Stock photo: A grade R pupil was allegedly beaten and bruised by her teacher who accused the child of telling a lie. Picture: Dumisani Dube

KwaZulu-Natal - A five-year-old Grade R pupil at a KwaZulu-Natal school was allegedly beaten by her teacher with a thorny stick after she was accused of lying about why she had been absent.

Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed this week that a case of ill-treatment of a minor and common assault was being investigated against the female Kearsney Primary School teacher. The school is in Kearsney, near KwaDukuza.

The pupil’s mother, Samukelisiwe Ngcobo, said the girl had been beaten with a “thorny stick” on her hands, legs and thighs on September 20, and has been too terrified to return to school after the alleged attack.

“Last week she did not go to school,” said the 23-year-old mother.

“Her father, who works in KwaMashu, and I had to rush to Stanger [KwaDukuza, where the child lives with relatives] to find out what is going on

.”

The mother, who is studying towards a teaching diploma at the uMfolozi College where she lives in the student residences, said the beating was “brutal”.

Ngcobo said her daughter was absent from school on September 19, and when she returned the next day, the teacher asked where she had been. The child said she had missed school because her washed uniform was too wet to wear.

“The teacher then asked her cousin, who is in Grade 1 [at the same school] why she was absent, and found out that she missed her bus,” she said. “[The teacher] started brutally beating her in front of the whole class.”

The bruises sustained by the five-year-old, who had been treated at a local hospital on the day of the alleged assault, were still clearly visible on Monday, when a Daily News team went to see her.

The couple had first reported the matter to the police on September 20, but a case number was issued to the mother at the KwaDukuza police station only on Monday.

Ngcobo said the teacher had not made contact with them, but allegedly told a relative close to the couple that she had been advised by her union not to say anything because of legal ramifications.

The child’s father, Lindelani Gumede, said he was appalled that the teacher had not apologised or explained her actions. He called for the teacher to be disciplined.

The principal of the school, who would not divulge his name, said the “necessary procedures have been followed”, when asked whether the matter had been reported to the department. He declined further comment.

A spokesman for the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education, Sihle Mlotshwa, said teachers had been reminded at the beginning of the year that corporal punishment is against the law.

He said the KwaDukuza district manager was not aware of the claims, but department officials would be sent to the school today.

The acting director of the National Teachers’ Union, Alan Thompson, said: “There is a campaign that is being circulated to our members; we want them to know that if you carry a stick in your classroom, then you must know that stick is your point of dismissal.

“We are saddened that a child was sent to school and returned home injured.” - Daily News


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