Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi wants decisive action to be taken at Three Rivers Secondary School in Vereeniging, where a student was caught on video throwing a book at a teacher last week.
Speaking from the school, where he met with the school governing body, the pupil, her parents as well as the teacher on Monday, Lesufi described the incident as “an embarrassment to the department that needed to be dealt with decisively through a disciplinary committee to be initiated at the school by this week.
“Clearly there was an altercation and words were exchanged before the particular moments caught on video. The disciplinary hearing will therefore afford both parties the opportunity to tell their side of the story,” said Lesufi.
The pupil was caught on camera pelting her female teacher with a text book and papers. The video has gone viral. The teacher did not retaliate and was shown exiting the classroom.
“In this instance, social media did not exacerbate the issue ... it made us as a department aware of the incident, leading to our presence at the school today to ensure that such behaviour does not replicate itself,” said Lesufi.
This is not an isolated incident. Last week the Democratic Alliance expressed dismay over a video that also went viral on social media showing two pupils fighting in a classroom allegedly at a Durban high school.
In the video, a learner stabs another with a pair of scissors and a fight ensues between the two. The incident allegedly took place three weeks ago.
Democratic Alliance KwaZulu-Natal member of the provincial legislature, Rishigen Viranna, at the time said they strongly condemned the attack. What was of particular concern, said Viranna, was that there was no teacher visible in the classroom at the time of the incident.
In February, the Limpopo provincial department of education, through its spokesperson, expressed concern over the rising number of acts of violence in schools and called for societal activism in curbing the scourge.
Limpopo Education spokesperson Sam Makondo beseeched parents to search their children’s school bags and check for weapons.
“These weapons are taken from homes to schools, hence we call on parents to assist us in making schools a safer place for all learners,” Makondo said.
This came after a Grade 9 pupil appeared before the Senwabarwana Magistrates’ Court, accused of stabbing another pupil to death with a sharp instrument in a classroom in Malebogo High School, outside Polokwane.
A national school violence study undertaken by the centre for justice and crime prevention in 2012 showed that 22.2% of high school learners were found to have been threatened with violence or had been the victim of an assault, robbery and/or sexual assault at school in 2011.
That study sample comprised 5939 pupils, 121 principals and 239 teachers.
Lesufi agreed that school violence was a worrying reality that needed to be dealt with in order to protect learners and the integrity of the education system.
“We have to work hand in hand with non-governmental organisations with the expertise to identify and root out these incidents before they even happen,” said Lesufi.