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School CP - May 2004

Corpun file 13401

Sunday Times, Johannesburg, 16 May 2004

Durban news

School head in caning probe

Pupil claims she was hit with stick for skipping class

By Bongani Mthethwa

The police and Education Department are investigating complaints of corporal punishment against a Durban high school principal.

Shante Jansen, a Grade 9 pupil at Glenhaven Secondary School in Verulam, alleges that principal Pat Moodley beat her and other pupils with a stick for bunking a lesson.

The 14-year-old, who sustained a swollen wrist, said she was terrified of returning to school as a result of the incident.

Verulam police station commissioner Superintendent Leon Matthysen confirmed that they were investigating complaints of assault and intimidation against Moodley.

The Education Department's spokesperson for the eThekwini region, Dr Joyce Harilal, said the matter was being investigated.

Moodley declined to comment, referring enquiries to the department.

Jansen alleges that she and a group of classmates were given a hiding for failing to attend an English class on Tuesday.

The group decided to watch a soccer match on the school grounds when their teacher did not turn up.

Jansen said they were reprimanded by their form teacher for not attending the English class.

The pupils were then sent to the principal's office.

Jansen claims Moodley hit her once on her right hand and left hand with a stick.

"His next shot landed on my fingers, and he said that's not a shot and he hit me again on my other hand."

According to a report by the Redcliffe Clinic which Jansen visited after the incident, she "suffered minimal movement of her right hand due to the severity of the pain resulting from a swollen wrist".

She was then referred to the Osindisweni Mission Hospital, where she was examined by Dr V L Jairam.

Her father, Isaac Jansen, 40, said he was very upset.

"I feel very hurt, and something must be done about this. This means that I must keep my child out of school until action is taken against the principal.

"Justice must be done," he said.

Glenhaven's school governing body chairman, Mike Pillay, confirmed that allegations against Moodley were being investigated by the education department.

"But, for now, they remain allegations," he said.

"We have a school code of conduct, and definitely we are clear that this is not allowed in schools and has not been allowed from the time the Schools Act came into being. So we don't condone that type of activity."

Provincial education spokes-man Mandla Msibi said: "Corporal punishment is banned in our schools, and we don't allow it in any form."

Msibi said if Moodley was found guilty, he could be suspended or dismissed, depending on the severity of the offence.

"We've dismissed quite a number of people for that, and we have disciplined a number of people."

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