File picture: ANA Pictures
Pretoria - The parents of a Grade 6 pupil at a Centurion primary school turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to obtain an order forcing the school to immediately hand over, and delete, “all half naked pictures” taken of the child by an official.

It court papers, they said the pictures were taken in May by a female official of the school in the office of the vice-principal.

The name of the school is being withheld by the Pretoria News to protect the 11-year-old child.

The parents said they feared the pictures could fall into the wrong hands, and want the school to also delete them.

But the school said it had reason to believe that the child was being abused at home as there were marks on her body. 

Officials denied that the pictures depicted the “half naked” body of the child and said they only showed the marks on her right thigh and left knee.

According to the school, the matter had been reported to social welfare and police, and the pictures were part of the evidence.

Judge Neil Tuchten subsequently dismissed the application of the parents.

The father of the child, who was accused of physically abusing her, said in his application against the school and its governing body that his daughter was illegally and unlawfully photographed in the vice-principal’s office. 

This was done without the permission of either him or his wife.

He said the marketing officer was in illegal possession of the pictures and demanded she hand them over. 

He said he feared the pictures may fall into the wrong hands, as there were also several male teachers at the school.

The father said his wife received a call from someone at the school who told her they had pictures of the child’s injuries and who accused him of being an abusive father.

The woman said she was going to collect more evidence and that she would come back to the child’s mother, which she never did.

The child told her mother that she was called to the office of the vice-principal and told to take off her tracksuit pants before pictures were taken of her. 

She said she was also “made to write a statement” before she was sent back to class.

The father said his lawyer wrote a letter to the school demanding the pictures, and answers, for their conduct. The school principal later agreed to meet them over the matter, but she then had a change of heart.

“She wanted an undertaking first that we will not take legal steps against the school,” the father stated.

The principal said the child’s teacher noticed that she was in tears on May 23 and that she could not properly sit in class. 

The teacher privately spoke to the child, who told her that her father had hit her with a belt.

The child was taken to the office of the vice-principal, where pictures were taken of her injuries. The marketing manager of the school took the pictures as she was in charge of the camera equipment.

The principal said she was not there at the time, but she knew police and social services were called. She also reported the matter to the Basic Education Department.

The principal said she was prepared to speak to the parents, but not through an attorney. “The decision of what to do with the evidential material such as photographs and the statement of the child, rest with the SAPS."

According to her, the school was not at liberty to delete the pictures without the permission of the police, who had to investigate the alleged abuse by the father.

The father denied abusing his child and said to date no case was opened against him. He said this was a personal vendetta against him by the school.

Pretoria News