The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) has called on the Department of Basic Education to rein in private schools to ensure that racial discrimination is not tolerated.
This follows an incident at Crowthorne Christian Academy in Midrand, where a now-viral video shows a middle-aged white man attacking and denying a 13-year-old pupil access to attend school.
It is alleged that the altercation was because of the pupil's natural hair in dreadlocks and the policy did not allow that.
According to reports, the parents interviewed said the school’s new hair policy was communicated via WhatsApp.
The reports also alleged that the school was not registered with the department.
Sadtu condemned the assault and expulsion of the pupil for refusing to cut her dreadlocks. It branded the act as "downright racist" and said it should not be tolerated.
“Sadtu is calling on the Department of Basic Education to rein in private schools, as some are being run like spaza shops,” it said.
It is alleged that the man who harassed the pupil is the husband of the school's principal. A 51-year-old man, Andries Hendrik Booysen, was charged with common assault on Friday morning and appeared in court.
He has been granted R2,000 bail by the Midrand Magistrate's Court.
"We condemn the granting of bail to the husband of the school principal and owner of the school who dragged and pulled the 13-year-old's hair as he forcefully removed her from the classroom in full view of other learners.
"Such an act was a gross violation of the learner’s rights. Children have a right to be free from all forms of violence, to enjoy their education, and not to be treated in a degrading manner," it said.
Sadtu said it was alarming that 30 years into the new democracy, some schools were still using hair policies to discriminate against African learners.
It said African hair was at the centre of many reports of learners being discriminated against and barred from schools because their hair did not conform to the schools' code of conduct.
The union further urged the department not to grant the owners of the school the licence to run any school.
It said the act was a clear demonstration that they have no empathy for children and education, but only want to use the school as a profit-making venture.