Shembe worshipers Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)
Durban - A 17-year-old Grade 11 pupil at an Inanda school was allegedly assaulted with a pipe after he failed to cut his hair, which he keeps long in accordance with the Shembe faith.

Thandazani Mbutho’s parent opened a case of common assault against the school’s deputy principal.

Last year, the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities raised the issue of the continued discrimination against KwaZulu-Natal school pupils of the Nazareth Baptist (Shembe) Church.

At the time, the education department said a circular had been sent out instructing all schools not to discriminate on the basis of religious association.

Yesterday, Thandazani’s mother Sindisiwe, who is also a chairperson of the school’s governing body, said her son was assaulted after a member of the community had asked him why he had not cut his hair.

The community member allegedly took the child to the school’s deputy principal, who allegedly hit him with a pipe on Tuesday.

The mother said this was not the first time her son was targeted by the community member.

“The community member asked the deputy principal to punish my son because he claimed he was refusing to cut his hair,” she said.

Chairperson of the Nazareth Judicial Council, Willington Myeni said he was aware of the incident.

“A parent came to us to report that her child was being punished for not cutting his hair by a deputy principal and we instructed the mother to open a case,” said Myeni.

The spokesperson for the KZN Department of Education, Muzi Mahlambi said the department’s position still stands and they will deal with people who keep breaching their policies.

“We will investigate this matter and, if it is verified, we will take disciplinary action,” said Mahlambi.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said a case of common assault was opened at Inanda police station for investigation after a 16-year-old was allegedly assaulted with a pipe by a known suspect. He sustained injuries to his hands,” said Gwala. 

The Mercury