By Sino Majangaza and Lulamile Feni
The provincial department of education is investigating claims of vicious corporal punishment at a KwaBhaca school, where the principal is allegedly the main culprit.
This comes after a video of a man assaulting pupils went viral on social media recently.
In the video, female pupils can be heard screaming as the man, allegedly the principal, beats them all over their bodies.
The Dispatch visited Makaula Senior Secondary in Lugengeni village to hear about the alleged beatings meted out at the school for being late or making a noise.
Pupils told the Dispatch that the standard punishment was five lashes and that one of the pupils was secretly taken to hospital without the knowledge of her family. She apparently spent three days there.
She was apparently injured when one of the teachers beat her all over her body when she showed reluctance to hold out her hand for a lashing.
Pupils told of how they were targeted for beatings by the principal daily.
Parents said they wanted the department to immediately suspend the principal.
“Beside the fact corporal punishment is illegal, it’s not how a teacher should punish pupils,” said a parent, who did not want to be named.
The head of the Eastern Cape education department, Themba Kojana, said they had received a report of the incident and had sent a delegation to investigate the matter.
“Immediately after the matter came to out attention we sent our team to investigate, but I was dissatisfied with the report that I received. I rejected it,” Kojana said.
“I have since taken it to our legal department. Those teachers were given warnings,” he said.
“If you [Dispatch] have new evidence besides [what] we have already, we will welcome it. I want it so that the department can act against the principal of that school,” he said.
Kojana said he was disturbed that in this day and age there were teachers who still beat pupils.
“If found guilty, [teachers] can be suspended or expelled and charged by the department or even by a court of law for that matter,” he said.
Pupils said other teachers also hit them. “Our parents are scared of the principal and they agree with everything he says,” said one pupil.
“They say we are supposed to be at school before or exactly at 5am every day. If you are two minutes late you get the beating and it can be severe.”
They said the principal was at the school gate at 5am and would beat latecomers. School started officially at 7am with an assembly.
Some pupils, who stayed far from the village and travelled by bus, said they left for school at 3am.
Parents in the village were scared to talk about the matter. Some are said to have been paid bribes of R1500 to stay silent about their injured children. Some pupils said they were instructed by the principal and other teachers not to tell anyone about what went on.
The principal and teachers refused to speak to the Dispatch.