Kimberley - Criminal charges have been filed against matric pupils from Kimberley Boys’ High School following the school’s annual orientation camp where Grade 8 pupils were allegedly subjected to “horrific” abuse and bullying.
Parents of Grade 8 pupils who attended the orientation camp, held just outside Barkly West during the first day of school on Wednesday, were left “horrified” after their children returned from the camp on Thursday evening and told of the “horrors” that allegedly transpired there.
“My 13-year-old son returned from the camp and told me that Grade 8 pupils were woken up by matric pupils in the middle of the night. The matrics then forced the Grade 8 pupils to fight each other by hitting them with fists.
“The boys were also forced to kiss each other. Those who refused to do what the matrics demanded were assaulted by the matrics. When my son refused to fight with one of his friends, he was dragged into a bathroom and severely beaten by two matrics,” one father said.
He added that several children who attended the camp had to receive medical treatment on Thursday evening after sustaining various injuries, with reports of one pupil breaking his leg during the alleged incident.
The father said he was shocked to learn about the incident, especially as schools should be “curbing bullying, not encouraging it” and added that forcing children to kiss each other bordered on sexual abuse.
“It is completely mind-boggling that bullying and severe assault could be allowed at a school camp. This from a school that should be speaking out against and prevent bullying. My son was very excited about his new high school career but returned from the camp scared and dismayed.
“If it was not such a challenge to find a high school in Kimberley, I would have taken him out of the school,” the father said.
On Friday he opened an assault case at the Barkly West Police station.
Northern Cape police spokesperson, Colonel Mashay Gamieldien, yesterday confirmed that police are investigating a case of common assault “following an incident involving a 13-year-old male pupil from a local high school in Kimberley who was on a school trip at a resort in the Barkly West district”.
“It is alleged that the victim was assaulted by two Grade 12 pupils on January 9 at approximately 6am while on a school trip,” Gamaldien said, adding that no arrests have been made yet and police investigations are continuing.
The Northern Cape Department of Education (NCDoE) said that it was “disturbed by reports and complaints of alleged bullying of Grade 8 pupils from Kimberley Boys’ High that attended an annual orientation camp in Barkly West”.
“The school has requested all the pupils who are victims of bullying to submit written reports in order to assist in the investigation. A total of 87 Grade 8 pupils attended the camp. It is important to note that no incident of bullying was reported by any pupil to the educators during the camp. It was only on Friday morning that some parents of the pupils reported to the school of what allegedly happened,” NCDoE spokesperson, Lehuma Ntuane, said.
Ntuane added that the NCDoE “regretted” the situation and has asked the school to review its annual orientation camp as part of curbing incidents of bullying in future.
“All schools are expected to include anti-bullying as part of its code of conduct. Bullying, whether verbal or physical, is distasteful and should never be tolerated,” Ntuane concluded.
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