Johannesburg - Her two children had been terrorised at school for months, but a schoolground fight filmed on a cellphone decided it for Chantelle Strijdom*.
Strijdom first saw a video in June of her 15-year-old daughter Anelle* being attacked by an older girl at Hoërskool Elspark in Ekurhuleni.
The video shows the aggressor approaching Anelle, poking her in the forehead and pushing her. When Anelle tries to walk away, the girl smacks her on the back of the head, turns her around and begins punching her in the face while other pupils laugh and film the incident on their cellphones.
The verbal bullying had allegedly already been going on for some time, but the fight was the last straw for Strijdom, who opened an assault case at Elspark police station.
In her statement, Strijdom describes how, when she arrived at the school on the day of the fight, none of the teachers had assisted her badly bruised daughter.
A teacher had allegedly told Anelle that she had been beaten up for spreading stories. And the teacher allegedly refused to listen to what had happened.
Strijdom was allegedly refused a meeting with the vice-principal, while another teacher claimed Anelle had thrown the first punch.
When the concerned mother got the video footage the next day, she saw this was not the case.
She also received a similar video that shows Strijdom’s son Jan* also being filmed as another boy walks up to him and throws a punch.
The significantly shorter clip first shows three boys waiting for their target, with one eventually pushed forward and attacking the 16-year-old, who tries to fight back.
After being told by the school’s staff that they could do nothing to help the two teenagers, Strijdom approached the police and the Department of Education, handing over the videos.
A meeting was facilitated between the principal, Strijdom and her daughter.
Strijdom said she was asked at the meeting to withdraw the assault case against the other pupil because “it was making the school look bad”.
The school’s report still reflected that Anelle had hit first, but Strijdom showed them the footage to prove her daughter’s innocence.
However, after the meeting, the school allegedly did not hand out any punishments, and the bullying continued.
On November 11, Jan was reportedly attacked again, and his mother was once again told that the school could do nothing and that she should rather go to the police.
After opening another assault docket, Strijdom realised the police were not interested in settling schoolyard matters.
Last Tuesday, Anelle was allegedly attacked again by the same girl as before. Strijdom arrived at the school to see her daughter with a black eye and a split lip.
Strijdom insisted on speaking to the vice-principal, who had apparently summoned the alleged bully and her friends to the office to explain themselves.
According to Strijdom, the teenage girls began threatening her, while the vice-principal did nothing.
When Strijdom walked out of the meeting in disgust, the girls allegedly ran after her, screaming that “they did not want her rubbish family in the school”.
After being ignored by the police investigators, who didn’t see the matter as serious enough to warrant an arrest, and being refused help from the school, Strijdom approached The Star.
She said her children didn’t want to attend school anymore, and the bullying, combined with the death of their brother in the past year, had left the two children in a state of depression.
It was only after The Star contacted the Gauteng Department of Education that it was revealed that the school was under investigation.
“The department strongly condemns any form of violence in schools, and cases reported are prioritised and swiftly dealt with,” said spokeswoman Phumla Sekhonyane.
She also revealed that district officials had visited the school on Friday to investigate.
She said a full report on violence at the school would be available soon.
* Not their real names
** The videos cannot be published to protect the identities of the minors involved.