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School CP - June 2005

Corpun file 16006

East London Daily Dispatch, 14 June 2005

Court rejects caning teacher's biblical defence

CAPE TOWN - An Equality Court judge yesterday rejected a complaint by a Western Cape primary school teacher who believed that as a Christian he should be free to beat his pupils.

Paul Rainers was dismissed from FJ Conradie Primary School in De Doorns in 2002 after refusing to hand in his pupils' mathematics marks, and refusing to implement Curriculum 2005.

On an earlier occasion, a disciplinary hearing had recommended his dismissal after he caned an 11-year-old pupil on the hand for not knowing her multiplication tables. That recommendation was commuted to a R6000 fine and a final warning.

Rainers claimed in papers before the court that both his caning of the girl, which is outlawed by legislation, and the actions that led directly to his dismissal, were based on his Christian beliefs.

Judge Siraj Desai said in his findings that Rainers believed both the Schools Act and the Constitution were subordinate to the Bible. However, Rainers had not set out facts from which it could be inferred that his dismissal was as a result of discrimination on religious grounds.

Desai said the limitation on corporal punishment in schools was reasonable and justified.

Rainers said he believed the judgment was invalid, as the courts had power to make only rulings that were in line with God's will.

"The government does not have a mandate from the overwhelming majority to govern as God or be elevated above God."

He would consider whether to appeal. - Sapa

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