A Phoenix boy is accompanied to school by armed bodyguards after he was bullied. Picture: Zainul Dawood
A Phoenix boy is accompanied to school by armed bodyguards after he was bullied. Picture: Zainul Dawood

Bullied boy takes bodyguards to school

By Zainul Dawood Time of article published May 24, 2016

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Durban - A North Durban dad, desperate to spare his son bullying and extortion by knife-wielding fellow pupils, has hired armed bodyguards to escort him to and from school.

This was after the the 15-year-old Grade 10 pupil was intimidated in class and chased by a group as he left Phoenix Secondary School.

The father, who accused the school of failing to take action against the bullies, said a group of boys had arrived in the second to last period of the school day on Wednesday about two weeks ago while the teacher had stepped out of class.

The group, according to the father, began intimidating the class and demanding money.

“My son stood up to them, and on hearing the commotion, the teacher stepped back inside and intervened. I believe these boys were drunk.

“After school, a group of 15 boys were standing outside the school gates. They saw my son on his way out of the premises and charged at him with knives,” said the parent.

He said the teachers were alerted to the incident and one of them took the boy home.

While the boy remained at home for more than a week, his father said he went to school on several occasions to get an explanation on what the school was doing to ensure the boy’s safety.

“The bullies were still not suspended. The issue was still not resolved. No meeting was set up with the boys’ parents.

“After a few days I went to the police to open a case, but instead I was told to write an affidavit which I used to get my son transferred to another school. The victim unit office at the police station promised to get back to me but they didn’t, neither did they come to school,” he said.

The father said it was only after he took the matter to the Department of Education’s area circuit offices that the school principal called to assure him that his son was safe and should return to school.

His son had not been to school for more than a week and is about to write examinations, so the parent decided on Monday to hire two guards at a cost of R900 a day to escort his son to and from school.

The guards, who had remained at the school until he had finished lessons, on Tuesday morning again escorted the boy.

“The police said it is a school problem and the school said it was a police problem. My son’s safety is my priority.

“The situation has left me stressed. Once the term is complete I hope to transfer him to another school.

“The principal has a list of bullies. However what happens outside of the school gates is not his concern.

“One of the bullies has a history of violence. No one seems to be interested and bullying incidents are swept under the carpet.”

The father said churches were willing to help families and children who were victims and perpetrators of bullying.

“We want to interact with parents. Drug abuse and dealing is rife in schools, but the only concern of those in charge is their schools’ reputation, hence they don’t report or ask for help from the authorities. Instead of the next generation becoming professionals in their fields of choice, they will become unemployed.”

The school principal declined to comment, saying he was forbidden from doing so by the department.

Despite promises to respond to questions emailed to the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department on Monday, spokesman Muzi Mahlambi had not done so by time of publication.

Police were asked to comment, but had not done so by the time of publication.

Bullying at schools is rife in KZN.

Between March last year and April this year, four bullying incidents involving guns and knives were reported in the Phoenix area alone.

In March last year a video clip, titled “Vicious fights at Stanmore Secondary School Phoenix” went viral.

It showed schoolboys in uniform being pushed into one another. One lets rip with a few kicks to another’s chest, and one grabs his schoolmate by the neck and they fall to the ground.

Owner of KZN VIP Protection Unit, Glen Naidoo, said they had been hired by the boy’s father. He said his client had exhausted all avenues and received no help.

“In the meantime the victim was taken for counselling and had refused to go back to school fearing for his life. Police often refer to these incidents as juvenile offences and that nothing can be done. This is an extreme measure that the father took,” he said.

“Recently we arrested pupils in possession of knives and pangas. They were released into their parents’ custody. Upon their release they uttered insulting remarks to my guards such as these security okes think they can do us something they can do us f*** all’.”

“It’s happening at almost every secondary school in Phoenix. Now if you are wondering about violent protests in universities, can you see what kind of community we are breeding?” Naidoo said.

The area Community Police Forum (CPF), Sector 2, said it was aware schools were “downplaying” such incidents.

Dean Marnitz of the forum said lack of action by schools had led to an escalation of bullying and drug abuse.

“We need a plan of action and we want parents to get involved. Random stop and searches inside and outside schools must be conducted regularly,” he said.

The South African Council of Educators chairwoman, Veronica Hofmeester, said the country was second only to Jamaica when it came to violent incidents at schools.

These statistics were revealed during the SA Democratic Teachers Union seminar on violence at schools, in Durban in August.

Daily News

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