A KwaZulu-Natal school principal in oPhongolo in northern KwaZulu-Natal is in hot water after administering corporal punishment on learners. Cellphone footage showing the principal caning pupils with a hose pipe has gone viral.
The principal is also accused of paying bribes to silence his victims in a bid to save his job.
The video footage, which was filmed in 2018, clearly shows learners pleading with the principal to stop beating them, but he continues. The learners claim they were being punished for talking in class.
An 18-year-old pupil claims the caning left him severely bruised and that he had to seek medical help. The learner says he did not open a case against the principal because nurses at a local clinic advised him not to. He says the principal threatened to expel him if he reported him.
“He had beaten me with an electric cable. I was really red in my back and could not do anything. The injuries I sustained have affected my sight and worse when I got into the hospital, nurses requested that I should not open the case. The principal is well connected in the community. We also believe that he bribed the people to be on his side. Some learners have dropped out of school because of this educator.”
Other learners also want the Department of Education to intervene.
“The problem is that our principal, from my point of view, is impulsive. He always beats us and, at times, using a hose pipe. Sometimes he would use an electric cable or hand clap a person on the cheek,” says one learner.
The boy’s uncle says they don’t know who to turn to.
“As a parent, I am hurt to see my child bruised by someone who should be protecting him, the teacher. If a child has done something wrong, why the teacher does not call me as a parent? Actions should be taken against the teacher. However, we don’t know what to do and where to report the principal.”
Meanwhile, the school’s governing body has refuted the allegations. They have defended the principal, despite seeing the video.
“I have just seen the video. However, it does not show clearly who does what to who. For me, I can only see learners screaming as if they are being entertained by someone. But it does not show Mr X beating Mr V. For us as the School Governing Body, we are not aware of the use of corporal punishment at the school. What we know is that children are fighting one another, not the teachers beating learners.”
The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education says it is investigating the matter. The school has been under heavy police guard after learners threatened not to return to class if the principal was still at the school.