Angry parents storm school
Durban - Pupils from a primary school in Northern KwaZulu-Natal were forced to stay at home on Thursday after angry parents forced the school gates closed.
This follows a morning staff meeting on Friday which turned ugly when a mob, including parents, stormed into the staffroom and attacked a teacher with knobkieries, steel pipes and bricks.
The Grade 7 male teacher, who is also in charge of the school’s sporting activities, said the group was led by a councillor.
Teachers ran for cover while the principal tried to stop the attack. However, the angry mob turned their attention to him.
The names of the parties and school are known to the Daily News, but are being withheld at this stage.
The teacher, who was discharged from hospital on Tuesday, said: “We were in the middle of a morning staff meeting when the mob stormed the staffroom. No questions asked or explanation given. Knobkieries, steel pipes and all sorts of weapons did the talking until the principal shielded me from the attack.
“Unfortunately, the attackers assaulted the principal too. Those people meant to kill me but I believe it was not my day.”
He said he heard later that the attackers accused him of sexually violating pupils.
No medical evidence was produced to support the claims.
“This is crazy. I have worked with children for years and I have my own children aged 13 and below. I sometimes take my children to school during sports days and they would play and chat with others. How then can I commit such evil acts on them?” he said.
“If it is something that I have been doing for a long time, why then have they not taken the victims for medical examination for evidence that can be used in court against me?”
He said he had laid charges of assault and malicious damage to property against a councillor who allegedly led the attack.
The principal, who was approached for comment, would only say: “I registered an assault charge with the police for the assault. I have since forwarded a report to the (KZN education) department about the incident.”
The area councillor denied he had been part of the attack. He said he had been trying to defuse the situation but the parents, who today prevented their children from going to school, would not listen to him.
“I did not attack anyone. As a community leader, I was there when the parents attacked the teacher and I tried to stop them but I failed.
“Even today the parents are still angry and they have closed the school demanding that the teacher be removed.
“I don’t understand why the (alleged) victims have not been taken to the doctor for examination to prove that the teacher assaulted them,” he said on Thursday.
Themba Ndhlovu, spokesman for the South African Council of Educators (Sace), condemned the attack.
He said sexual assault allegations against teachers were taken seriously and should be reported as they came to light. He said Sace had dealt with many cases in the province where parents had either closed schools or attacked teachers after sexual interference allegations had come to light.
“We call upon the parents… to write to us detailing how the assaults were taking place and who have they reported to. In a mob-kind of a struggle there are people who take advantage of the situation without evidence that the accused has committed the crime or not,” Ndhlovu said.
“In some cases parents claim that they had reported the allegations to the relevant bodies without action taken. In such cases parents then decide to take the law into their own hands. We do not condone that because it’s against the law.”
The spokesman for the KZN Department of Education, Sihle Mlotshwa, said it was shocking that parents could storm into a school and attack teachers and principals.
“We still need to get to the bottom of this if it happened, and if it did, we will be very much disappointed because schools are institutions where young minds are moulded into better persons for the future,” Mlotshwa said. “This will be very embarrassing.”
Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, said cases of common assault and malicious damage to property were being investigated, but that no arrests had been made.
The deputy mayor of the town where the school is situated said they needed to hear the councillor’s side of the story before commenting.