A Gauteng school principal has been accused of causing emotional and psychological trauma to a 17-year-old pupil, resulting in her failing in December.
The parents of the Grade 11 pupil said this was after the principal, Nhlanhla Malindi, invited a group of gangsters to conduct a random search for drugs and weapons on the school premises. The community group called Tau Dia Rora allegedly harassed the pupil in front of her classmates.
The parents blamed the incident for the drop in her performance.
When asked to confirm or deny the incident, Malindi referred questions to the Sedibeng District in Sebokeng. The district said it has asked Malindi to provide a report and referred questions to the Gauteng Department of Education.
On Thursday, the department said it had received the inquiry and was working on a response. However, they requested an extension to be able to “provide a comprehensive response”.
Parent Nandi Mahlong said her daughter came home with a broken heart on that day. She said this was because she felt embarrassed and humiliated.
“What she told me is that one of the group members forced her to pull up her skirt, despite her asking that she do that in private. She asked the member that they go outside so she could search her but she denied and pulled her skirt apart.
“The reason she asked to be searched in private is because she wanted to be respected like a woman, but these people refused and denied her rights. She did not want to expose her private parts in front of everyone,” said the 43-year-old mother.
Mahlong said she took the matter to Malindi who apologised and instructed the pupil to go back to the class. She said the group also apologised.
According to the South African Schools Act, the principal or his or her legal delegate may search any learner or the property of any learner for any dangerous object, alcoholic liquor and illegal drugs if a fair and reasonable suspicion has been established.
The Act also states that where there is a suspicion that learners have dangerous objects, alcoholic liquor or illegal drugs in their school bags or lockers, the random search will be directed at the learners’ school bags and lockers only and may not be extended to their bodies.
Where a search entails the body search of a learner, the person searching the learner should not require him or her to remove any clothing other than outer clothing. The person shall be the same gender as the learner and search only in the presence of another member of staff, who is also of the same gender as the learner.
Mahlong said Malindi should be responsible for his actions that have destroyed her daughter. She said her child suffered trauma and struggled to focus in class.
“What upset me is that the school did not even take her for counselling. She had to continue with life as if nothing happened. She has never been herself since that incident because this is the first time she has had to repeat a class in her life. My daughter has always been an outstanding performer.
“Her failure also came as a shock to me because I have never received a call regarding her performance, and they are refusing to give us a full explanation,” said Mahlong.
Mahlong said her daughter has been showing signs of trauma, even at home, since the incident happened.