Sjambok punishment still plagues schools

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Yet another video of a teacher beating pupils has emerged as the education department grapples with corporal punishment in schools.

Pupils and teachers at Mphaphuli High School in Sibasa in the Vhembe region of Limpopo are crying foul over the use of plastic plumbing pipes, electric pipes and sticks as part of punishment.

Sowetan has seen a video in which pupils line up to be lashed by deputy principal Shonisani Magoma with what appears to be a stick.

A male pupil at the school told Sowetan that they were being lashed for offences such as failing to tuck in their shirts.

“We are being beaten for not tucking in our golf shirts, which I feel is not fair.

“We are also being beaten daily for arriving a few minutes late at the school,” he said.

Others pupils claimed they were being punished for wearing colourful belts which do not match the school uniform.

“This whole situation is so painful to us as girls because we are being beaten on our backs and buttocks for having colourful hairstyles.

“I feel that it is not fair to us because our constitution permits us to have hairstyles of our own choice,” said a Grade 11 pupil at the school.

Mphaphuli High School, a no-fee paying school, is one of the schools in the Vhembe area with a large number of enrolments every year, with more than 1000 pupils.

Some teachers said they have tried to alert the circuit office and the district officials about what is happening at the school.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, the teachers also spoke against corporal punishment.

“A learner was nearly knocked by a passing taxi as they were locked outside the school gates waiting to be beaten for being late last year. Here the only communication which is being used is a sjambok,” said a teacher.

“There is also no learners representative committee at the school where learners who have grievances can turn to and if you try to voice your concerns on behalf of the pupils, you end up being victimised,” said the teacher.

When contacted, Magoma said: “I know nothing about what you are talking about, so I have nothing to say to you and if you write something about me, I will find you and deal with you.”

The school’s principal, Lufuno Mulaudzi could not be reached for comment.

Education department spokesman Elijah Mhlanga said they were concerned that corporal punishment was still being practised in schools around the country.

“It’s not only in Limpopo. The South African Council of Educators (Sace) does a lot of work to remind teachers about their legal duties and responsibilities as far as corporal punishment is concerned.”

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