School teacher fired for punching pupil in face
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Cape Town – A Tafelsig school teacher has been fired for punching a Grade 5 learner in the face and stomach after he defied his instruction not to go to the toilet.
Abdul Galant from Huguenot Primary School has also been found not fit to work with children again.
He had challenged his dismissal at the Education Labour Relations Council, which found against him, after he was in October 2019 charged with seriously assaulting a learner with the intention to cause grievous bodily harm.
According to documents before the arbitrator, the learner was standing in a line with other peers when he ran to pee, defying Galant, who refused to let him go when he asked.
Galant was minding the pupils during the school’s feeding scheme when, after breakfast, the learners lined up again and were escorted back to the classrooms.
A few other friends also followed to the toilets without permission, testified the boy at the arbitration hearing.
When Galant arrived in the toilet, the friends managed to run away and Galant found the boy in the toilet cubicle, where he allegedly used his fists to strike him twice in the face and in the stomach.
Galant had dismissed the claims, saying that the pupil had fabricated the story and that he had never hit a learner.
But arbitrator Gail McEwan said the boy’s story was “consistent and this was not a first offence for Galant”.
McEwan found that Galant, a teacher at the school for 30 years, had in the past years pushed a learner with his hand and threw a book into the face of another before pulling her.
This is after the school principal, Brunhilde Hartnick, testified that the teacher had two prior warnings.
McEwan summarily dismissed him last week, under the Employment of Educators Act, and asked the SA Council of Educators to revoke his teaching certificate as “he is not fit to again work with children”.
She said Hartnick testified that she was in her office when she heard something and saw the learner running and trying to get out of the gate.
“Galant had been running right behind the learner and explained that he had been rude. He told Galant to tell Hartnick what had really happened about how Galant had hit him.
’’Galant had not reacted other than to say he wanted to take the learner with him. Hartnick saw how upset he (Galant) was and took him into her office to try to calm him down,” papers read.
The boy showed Hartnick his face pointing to his cheek on one side and she saw swelling developing.
“Hartnick confirmed that following a similar assault incident in May 2018, Galant had entered into a plea bargain agreement in terms of which Galant had been fined five thousand rand and sanctioned with a final written warning valid for a period of six months,” said McEwan.
Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson Bronagh Hammond welcomed the ruling, saying: “The WCED adopts a zero tolerance approach in instances of abuse of learners.”
Attempts were made to reach Galant’s representative but they were not available by deadline.