Tragic tale of rod rule
THE news, as broken by this newspaper, that an Mpumalanga teacher, who beat up a seven-year-old pupil who later died, has been barred from the profession, is most welcome.
Sowetan broke the story about three weeks ago and told how parents spoke of the teacher, who has become infamous in the village for resorting to illegal and barbaric methods to instil her brand of discipline in the classroom.
Sebenele Ndlovu died away on June 8, four days after the assault. The teacher had allegedly assaulted him with a broomstick and ordered classmates to join in on the beating.
The cause of death has not yet been established, but the teacher in question, Sibongile Monica Mashaba, has appeared in court and the prosecutor declined to prosecute because of lack of evidence.
Nonetheless, on the strength of evidence against her and in accordance with the Employment of Educators Act, the department of education in the province decided to suspend Mashaba. She was later fired despite an apparent pre-emptive resignation a few days after her suspension.
For good measure, the South African Council of Educators announced that it would tag Mashaba, meaning that an alarm will be raised every time she attempts to worm her way back into service. She is also barred under the Children's Act from working with children in any other capacity.
No doubt, as bad as she might have been painted out to be, Mashaba deserves her day in court.
But while other functionaries of governance are seemingly on the ball, another arm of the state seems not to be playing ball at all.
Sebenele's parents told Sowetan this week that they are far from happy about the way the police have handled the case thus far.
They said the police were not keeping them up to date with developments in the case. They were not even notified that Mashaba was appearing in court last week.
But police said they were still collecting evidence. And the docket would then be sent to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions for a decision on whether to charge the teacher.
We hope that the police will treat the case urgently and with the required sensitivity.
Sebenele's family deserve no less than justice and closure to this tragedy.
We can only hope that this tragic tale will serve as a warning to those entrusted with the care and education of our children, that they should stop resorting to ancient methods of bringing order to the class.