Teacher in trouble for calling six-year-old pupil 'monkey'

A mother is distraught after her son was called a monkey by a teacher in Noodwyk Primary School, Midrand. / Mduduzi Ndzingi
A mother is distraught after her son was called a monkey by a teacher in Noodwyk Primary School, Midrand. / Mduduzi Ndzingi

A white primary school teacher in Midrand has been accused of calling a black Grade 1 pupil a monkey in front of his classmates.

The brave six-year-old pupil at Noordwyk Primary School then complained to deputy principal Sophie Phahle.

According to the child's mother, the incident took place last Friday. "My child had an argument with another boy in class, who had taken his eraser. He could not concentrate as he insisted that the boy should return his eraser.

"The class teacher said he was disturbing the class and she sent him to another class. In that class, the teacher wanted someone to go and wash the blackboard cloth.

"Even though a lot of kids volunteered, she said 'I will send this monkey ... here monkey, go and wash the cloth [referring to the boy]'. I won't let my son be a victim of racism."

The mother said she was called by the school on Tuesday, saying there was an incident but that everything had been taken care of.

"I went to the school to find out what was the problem. They told me what happened, saying they will investigate why the teacher called my child a monkey."

The mom said the teacher admitted she called her son a monkey, but that she meant no harm as she usually calls other pupils "love monkeys".

The mom said she felt let down by the school and was angry because the teacher was only issued with a verbal warning.

"For me this is a criminal offence ... I am not happy at all. We live in a country where black people are killed for being mistaken as monkeys. I sent an e-mail to education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.

"I [also] went to Midrand police station but they said they could only write a report because the matter was between me and the department."

Principal Lynelle Eloff said she could not comment on the matter as it was with the department. The spokesman for the department Steve Mabona said it was investigating.

Lesufi said: "Our investigation will leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of this matter. We will always promote social cohesion in all our schools. No educator will be allowed to utter any derogatory remarks in our environment and [the department] fail to take any action thereof."

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