WATCH | Pupils demonstrate in support of teacher after slapping video goes viral

The Western Cape education department has launched an investigation after a video showed a teacher slapping a pupil in a classroom at one of Cape Town’s leading schools. 

The Western Cape education department has launched an investigation after a video showed a teacher slapping a pupil in a classroom at one of Cape Town’s leading schools. 

In the video, shot this week, the Sans Souci Girls’ High School teacher can be seen and heard embroiled in an argument with a grade 9 girl over a book.

What seems to have angered the teacher was something the girl said in a “different language”. The female teacher exclaimed: “Are you swearing at me?”

The school was in the news in 2016 when pupils accused it of victimising them for speaking languages such as Xhosa.

In this week’s viral video, the female teacher can be heard shouting at the pupil: "You must have a book like this, please take this as evidence. This is a disciplinary hearing now. Your phone shouldn’t have been in your hand. You shouldn’t have a phone. You wanna challenge me?"

The teacher goes on to say: "My dear, you gonna get last. I have been where you are. I have two degrees, working on the third one. You don’t even have a book in grade 9." 

The teacher then takes a piece of paper and says: "You know what it says about phones. You should obey that. Why don’t you have a book?"

The pupil then claims that the teacher swore at her. The teacher responds: "What did I swear? What did I say to you?"

The pupil says: "Everybody heard you."

The teacher then says: "Come, out my class."

The learner says something inaudible and the teacher replies: "Are you swearing at me? You are speaking a different language in my class?" 

The teacher then switches to Afrikaans, pushes the desk towards the pupil and gets close to the pupil’s face. The pupil pushes the desk back towards the teacher and gets up.

The teacher shouts: "Are you hitting me?" She then slaps the pupil and says: "You push me, you swear at me."

Debbie Schäfer, the Western Cape education MEC, said ill-discipline at schools would not be tolerated but "corporal punishment is unacceptable". She said officials from her department had visited the school on Wednesday morning.

She said the teacher in the video had been appointed by the school governing body, which would meet to discuss disciplinary steps.

"I am aware that some commentators on social media platforms are immediately assuming that the incident is race-related," she said. "While I understand their anger at the images displayed on the edited version of the video, we cannot assume that this was racially motivated. We ask that the public allow the SGB to investigate the incident before such conclusions are made."

Schäfer said pupils at Sans Souci, in Newlands, had held "a  peaceful protest in assembly in support of the educator" on Wednesday.  

"We are very aware of the many disciplinary challenges our educators face daily in our schools. However, the use of violence to deal with learners shows signs of behavioural issues or ill-discipline that cannot be tolerated."

The Progressive Professionals Forum (PPF), an association of professionals in the Western Cape, said it would report the teacher to the police for assault and would write to the SA Council of Educators to ask for an investigation into the teacher's conduct.

In a statement, the association said: "PPF is disturbed and appalled by the disgusting manner the teacher carried herself in the incident in the video.

"The teacher clearly lacks understanding of school rules and enforcement procedures, in that she first indicates that she's running a disciplinary hearing in class, which marks the beginning of the consternation."

"It is sad, because the learner remains calm and composed, meanwhile the teacher is shouting to an extent of throwing things around. The teacher further complains about language use, but by the same token she uses Afrikaans interchangeably with English," the PPF said.

"PPF would like to make it clear, learners are free to speak any language of their choosing in South African schools, so long as it doesn’t interfere with the teaching and learning process.

"Therefore the condemnation of the learner for speaking a different language in class is condemned in the strongest terms. It smacks of racism and intolerance."

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