An Eastern Cape student teacher appeared in court in connection with the assault of a nine-year-old Grade 2 pupil with a duster.
The third-year University of Fort Hare education student, 22, was arrested on Thursday.
The child’s fingers had been hit so hard with the wooden side of the duster that splinters had to be removed from her fingers, according to the girl’s mother, Nontembiso Soldat, 34.
East London police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Hazel Mqala confirmed that the student teacher had been arrested by the Beacon Bay police and appeared in court on Friday.
Mqala could not reveal the court outcome saying there was no way of knowing because the docket was still in court.
The Eastern Cape department of education has launched an investigation.
Provincial spokesman Malibongwe Mtima, yesterday said the department welcomed the arrest.
“We are glad to see that parents respond to our calls for them to report [suspected] assault of pupils by teachers because corporal punishment is against the law.”
Soldat, a barista at a Beacon Bay coffee establishment, said the incident had happened on Tuesday at Noncedo Primary in Ducats just outside East London.
Soldat said the student teacher had apparently been doing her practical in the classroom next to her daughter’s Grade 2 classroom.
“The Grade 2 teacher was not in class so apparently the kids were making a big noise so the next door teacher went there to silence them,” she said.
She alleged that her child, along with the other 34 pupils in the classroom, had been made to hold their hands out for a smack with the duster.
Soldat said she had confronted the student teacher, who claimed that because she was still in training she was not aware that it was against the law to beat children.
Mtima said the department’s internal investigation would reveal further details and also establish why the Grade 2 class teacher had been out of that classroom at the time of the alleged assault.
Attempts to contact the student teacher hit a wall after a woman, who identified herself as the mother but would not give her name, refused to allow the Dispatch to speak to the student teacher.
The woman cried on the phone, pleading with the Dispatch not to publish the story saying it would traumatise her daughter.
However, she told the Dispatch that her daughter had been forced to discipline the chaotic children in the class next door because they were interrupting her own class.
Mtima said the education department continued having to contend with huge legal bills because teachers in the province continued to hit pupils.
“We are inundated with lawsuits where we end up suffering huge financial loses because we have to pay parents suing us.”