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School CP - March 2011

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The Star, Johannesburg, 31 March 2011

Stressed teacher beats boy, 13

By Nontobeko Mtschali

A 13-year-old Finetown Primary School boy shows the marks left on his buttocks after he was thrashed at school for marking his own maths exam paper. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko - INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

A Finetown Primary School teacher is being investigated for beating a 13-year-old boy as his classmates pinned him down over a school desk.

*Thulani, a Grade 7 pupil at the Ennerdale school, south of Joburg, had marked his own assignment and faked the teacher's signature because he feared being beaten.

But when he was caught out during the maths period on March 22 - a day after the Human Rights Day holiday - Thulani said the teacher asked other boys to hold him down while he caned him with a stick wrapped with duct tape.

"He hit me so many times, I ended going numb -- by the time he was done I couldn't feel anything," said Thulani.

The teen attended the rest of his classes without having received medical treatment.

"I didn't feel the pain until later in the afternoon, I just felt hot," said Thulani.

"When he arrived home he was walking slowly," said his mother *Thembi. "I thought he was tired as it was very hot."

When she saw what had happened, Thembi rushed to a public phone to call her sister, a teacher at another school in the area.

"I felt my head heating up -- I just went straight out without even thinking," she said.

A meeting was arranged for the next day between the school's deputy principal, some teachers and members of the school governing body. The teacher was also present.

Click to enlarge

"He didn't deny it, he admitted he did it. He said he was (stressed) and took it out on the children," she said, adding that he told her that Thulani was the fourth pupil he hit that day.

Thulani, who has been going to Finetown Primary since Grade 1, said corporal punishment was a norm at the school.

The teacher has been suspended pending the conclusion of the probe into the incident.

As corporal punishment is outlawed in schools, if a teacher is found guilty of hitting a pupil, he or she faces the possibility of being fined or jailed.

Meanwhile Thulani, whose mother described him as a child who loved school, is dreading going back to school when it reopens on April 11.

Even though he has recovered from the physical pain and the difficulties he experienced when he had to relieve himself as a result of the injuries, Thembi was fearful of the impact the incident would have on her son's future.

The incident was reported to the police.

Gauteng Department of Education spokesman Charles Phahlane said: "Upon hearing of this incident, (the department) summoned the deputy principal of the school and the district director to meet with him last week. He widened the scope of the investigation to look holistically at issues of discipline at the school."

* Thulani and Thembi are not their real names.

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