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Durban - An Ntuzuma teacher who allegedly hit 35 Grade 8 pupils with a plastic pipe over a period of three days had apparently been trying to drive some pupils from the school because of their protest action last year.
The Senzokwethu High School pupils have laid assault charges against him.
The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education has suspended him and is waiting for the police to finish their investigation before it takes action against him.
“What kind of an adult assaults children with a pipe? We’re definitely going to take the harshest of measures,” said department spokesman Bheki Mncube.
“(If he is guilty) there’s absolutely no room for teachers like him in the education system.”
Corporal punishment was illegal and was an offence punishable by dismissal, he said.
The teacher, who cannot be named as he has not yet appeared in court, allegedly assaulted the pupils last week over an incident that occurred last year.
He had allegedly singled out pupils who used to attend the Faith Mlaba Primary School, situated on the same property as the high school, for causing a ruckus while protesting.
The pupils had protested against the lack of classrooms, because up to five classes were being taught in Faith Mlaba’s school hall.
Their parents were infuriated when they heard of the alleged assaults and threatened to assault the teacher.
A parent, Ntokozo Maphalala, 30, said her daughter was still traumatised: “She was completely disturbed from what happened, she did not want to go to school because she was beaten for two days.
“She showed me the bruises that resulted from the beating and then told me that the teacher threatened to continue until they took transfers to other schools,” Maphalala said.
“She (her daughter) is having a hard time, she can’t sleep. She wakes up saying that she sees him with that pipe in his hand.”
Maphalala claimed the teacher had also referred to the pupils as “Satanists”.
“I sent my daughter to school to receive an education, not to be abused by teachers who think they are above the law. He hit them on their waists. What if he had broken their backs? What would he have done then?” she asked.
Irene Khuboni, the school governing body’s secretary, confirmed that the allegations were being investigated.
“The kids were apparently scared of going back to school because they were being whipped. They were completely terrified,” Khuboni said.
“We cannot tolerate such behaviour from people we have entrusted with our children’s futures.”
Mncube said the department was appalled by the allegations.
He said the department was told the teacher had been warned after the first attack that steps would be taken against him if he continued.
“Instead, he dared his superiors to do something and he continued the following day,” Mncube said.
“The teacher is suspended right now, but he will be dismissed (if) the outcome of the investigation (shows he is guilty),” he said.
“We don’t care about the expertise or the skills he has, it is wrong.”
Police spokesman, Colonel Jay Naicker, said Ntuzuma police were investigating the allegations of assault although no arrest had been made.
“The motive of the incident is unknown at this stage,” he said.