Johannesburg – An Afrikaans teacher at Northriding Secondary School has been suspended following an incident where she allegedly hit a Grade 8 pupil and called other learners the k-word.
Gauteng Department of Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi visited the school on Friday morning to get to the bottom of the incident.
The allegations came after the friend of the affected pupil’s parents posted on social media that the 14-year-old pupil was called a K-word by a teacher at the school.
Speaking to the media at the school, spokesperson for the department, Steve Mabona said the incident started in a Grade 8 Afrikaans class on Thursday morning.
There, he said, a disagreement ensued between the teacher and the affected pupil. Mabona added that the disagreement was about noise in the classroom during the lesson.
“The teacher is then alleged to have sprayed the learner with sanitizer. He then left the classroom to report to the matter to another teacher in the neighbouring class.
“It is alleged that the teacher followed and started to engage violently with the pupil, further spraying him with sanitizer all over his body and allegedly calling him a ‘kaff*r’. The violence stopped only after the intervention of the other teacher.”
Mabona said reports state that the same teacher then had another altercation with other pupils in the next period where she swore at them, allegedly calling them “baboons, drug dealers and k*ffirs”.
Mabona said the principal, Francios Oosthuizen, others teachers and members of the Representative Council of Learners rushed to the classroom and diffused the situation. A decision was then taken for the teacher to be immediately suspended until a disciplinary process had been conducted, he said.
“The MEC is for non-racialism is quite disappointed. He is always advocating that any racism will not be tolerated in our spaces… When our educators are in the classrooms we will always encourage them to guide learners and teach and not find themselves in allegations of racism,” he said.
Mabona added that the Afrikaans teacher was appointed to the school by the School Governing Body (SGB) on a one year contract.
“An SGB post can be someone who has retired and came back in the system because of the necessity,” he said.
Oosthuizen confirmed that the school instituted the suspension on Thursday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the father of the Grade 8 learner, who cannot be named to protect his identity said it was a traumatic experience for the family and other children who were in the class at the time.
“It’s traumatic and it’s something that we've been really angry about.
“It’s 2021 we didn’t think we would experience such. For a 14-year-old to go through such in 2021 is just a lot,” the father said.
He added that the family expected the school to handle the matter decisively but not only for their child but other learners.
“There is a lot that needs to change with the school in terms of process and how they engage parents, kids and teachers and the culture that is here,” the father said.
The department’s psycho-social unit was deployed to the school to provide counselling for the learners and the department’s district officials were also deployed to brief concerned parents.