‘Slap’ teacher faces discipline

Cape Town - 190110 - Western Cape MEC for Education Debbie Schafer addressed the top performing grade 12 students of 2018 at Leeuwenhof. Pictures: Armand Hough / African News Agency (ANA)

The Sans Souci High School teacher filmed slapping a pupil on Tuesday will face disciplinary action, says the Western Cape Education Department.

In the clip that went viral, the teacher can be seen reprimanding the pupil for not having her textbook and having her phone in her hand.

“You want to challenge me, my girl, you will come last,” the teacher can be heard saying.

The two are seen arguing back and forth. When the teacher later asks the pupil to leave the class, the girl refuses.

The teacher moves the desk out of the way, asking the pupil to leave again. The pupil refuses and the teacher takes the cellphone, the pupil pushes past the teacher to try to take her cellphone back, and it is at this point, where the teacher slaps her, accusing the pupil of pushing her.

While many were divided over the incident, as seen by comments on social media, the pupils held a peaceful protest in support of the teacher during assembly the next morning, Wednesday February 6, stating that the incident was not race related

Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said officials visited the school yesterday, Wednesday, to discuss the disciplinary steps going forward.

“An investigation into the incident is also under way. The investigation will determine whether the pupil will also face disciplinary action.

“Pupils in the class have been asked to make a statement regarding the events that led up to the incident,” she said.

Ms Schäfer said there had been further video evidence edited out of the version being circulated.

“I want to state categorically that the actions of the educator are unacceptable. Any form of corporal punishment in our schools will not be tolerated,” she said.

“We are very aware of the many disciplinary challenges our educators face daily in our schools. However, the use of violence to deal with learners that show signs of behavioural issues or are ill-disciplined cannot be tolerated.”

Ms Schäfer said the South African Schools Act and the National Education Policy Act prohibited corporal punishment in schools.

“Through the school’s code of conduct, schools should state clearly what kinds of behaviour are unacceptable. Should a pupil transgress, then the school has the right to discipline them.

“The WCED will support schools that ensure that the relevant disciplinary procedures are followed when it comes to any form of violence or anti-social behaviour in our schools. This is because we take a zero-tolerance stance on pupils that transgress various disciplinary codes by attacking or assaulting their fellow pupils or educators.”

She called on the public to allow the student governing body to investigate the incident, amid comments made on social media with people claiming the incident was racially motivated.

“I am aware that some commentators on social media platforms are immediately assuming that the incident is race related. While I understand their anger at the images displayed on the edited version of the video, we cannot assume that this was racially motivated.”

Many took to Facebook to share their thoughts. Lee-Anne Williams said: “I’m so proud to say I went to Sans Souci Girls’ High School. However, I’m terribly disappointed in what had been happening in the past few years. And apparently it still hasn’t stopped.”

Ilitha Labantu, an organisation that advocates for the rights of women and children, said: “We strongly condemn the unacceptable behaviour displayed by the educator seen in the video.

“We urge that Sans Souci Girls’ High School and the Department of Basic Education take disciplinary action against the educator, as the use of violence will never be tolerated at school or anywhere in society for that matter.”

When approached for comment, the school said the governing body would be issuing a statement on the incident, but the Tatler did not receive it by the time this edition went to print.