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One of the learners who were assaulted. Photo supplied. 

Pupils claim that 'fake soldiers' assaulted them

 

A school in the Nzhelele area that allegedly used a vigilante group dressed in camouflage uniforms to “teach a lesson” to unruly pupils has come under severe criticism. From the information that could be gathered about the incident, learners claim they have been assaulted, some for no apparent reason.

The much-talked-about incident took place last Friday (26th) at the Tswime Secondary School in Maluma Nzhelele. Some of the parents who spoke to Limpopo Mirror on condition of anonymity said that the school was experiencing a problem with substance abuse among learners. None of them had any problem with the school’s acting against the offenders, but they did not agree with the actions taken last week.

The school principal – a Ms Ravele – had allegedly hired a group of people to visit the school and address the issue of substance abuse. Some of the parents believe the people who arrived at the school may be connected to the different security groups in Venda who are currently involved in a deadly gang war. These groups are also known for wearing camouflage uniforms.

The ordeal on Friday started shortly after the morning assembly at the school, where the group of “soldiers” addressed the school. One of the learners explained what had happened:

“When we saw the people dressed in camouflage uniforms, we at first thought they were members of the defence force coming to give us a career talk. We were surprised when they separated us from the other learners and started searching us,” he said. The separated group was allegedly taken to a classroom, away from the rest of the school. The men apparently did find cigarettes and even rizlas (paper used to wrap marijuana) as well as some marijuana. “That's when they started to physically attack us, using the metal side of a belt and the sole of a shoe. They also slapped us. Not all of the learners were guilty. Some were beaten for not wearing a full school uniform,” he said.

According to the learner, some of the boys asked the principal to take them to the hospital after they were beaten up, but this request was refused. The learners who were assaulted were from Grades 10 to 12.

“Even today I am still feeling pain in my body. We want the principal to account for what had happened. Those guys are not members of the SANDF. They have tattoos and they were wearing rings,” he said. He said the principal told them that the guys were from Polokwane.

When contacted this week, neither the principal nor members of the School Governing Body (SGB) wanted to comment on the incident.

Mr Mosebjane Kgaffe, the acting director of communication at the Limpopo Department of Education, responded and said that the department could confirm that the principal had not hired any gangsters to beat up learners.

“The principal implemented Section 8A of the South African Schools Act as amended, which empowers him to delegate a person or persons to [conduct a] search. We, however, condemn any physical assault against anybody,” he said. Kgaffe said that the SGB had addressed the issue with parents and learners.

Section 8A of the Schools Act deals with the bringing of dangerous objects or illegal substances to school premises, but does not deal with the use of outside parties to educate or punish learners for transgressions. Section 10 of the Schools Act, however, prohibits corporal punishment in schools and states that no person may administer corporal punishment at a school.

A guardian of one of the learners who claims to have been assaulted said he was disappointed by the school’s decision to call outsiders without talking to the parents. “We are very hurt by the situation. I want us as parents to go to the principal, so that she can explain her motives to us. The school hasn't contacted us since the incident,” he said. He emphasised that they did not condone substance abuse and believed that the school should act against offenders, but not in such a manner.

 

 

Date:03 May 2024

By: Maanda Bele

Maanda  Bele, born and raised in Nzhelele Siloam, studied journalism at the Tshwane University of Technology.

He is passionate about current news and international affairs.

He worked as part of the Zoutnet team as an intern in 2017.

He is currently a freelance journalist specialising in news from the Vhembe district.

Read: 1530

 

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