Why not call for corporal punishment again before ganja babalas subsides?

The incident where a teacher died after he was stabbed at Ramotshere Secondary School near Zeerust in North West, was not the first time a pupil has turned violent, says the writer.
The incident where a teacher died after he was stabbed at Ramotshere Secondary School near Zeerust in North West, was not the first time a pupil has turned violent, says the writer.
Image: Tiro Ramatlhatse

Sometimes I feel sorry for our government. I'm one of the fiercest critics of the government for the myriad ways they fail communities, but I acknowledge there are things the government does right.

For instance, free condoms are a luxury enjoyed by few countries around the world.

The so-called RDP houses have become an entitlement even when some people can afford to build their own houses or even afford to convert the RDPs into double storeys.

Then, of course, there are child grants enjoyed by millions every month. Students also receive free meals through the school feeding scheme, and finally, we now have free tertiary education following violent protests that spooked the government two years ago.

In the midst of all these freebies, we also enjoy the most liberal laws this side of the equator. Corporal punishment has been banned at home and at schools, leaving a vacuum that has bedevilled teachers and parents alike.

Some of us who bore the brunt of the stick at school remember fondly those days when a teacher would make you bend over and give you three strokes on the buttocks.

With hindsight, and the pain of a beating just a faint memory, we look back fondly at those days. I remember Maru-matsho, a fearsome stick covered with black masking tape that my maths teacher, City, wielded at the slightest provocation if you could not factorise an X.

The teachers were so feared and respected that I even flirted with the idea of pursuing an education degree. Without corporal punishment, our poor teachers have been emasculated and have limited options to instil discipline.

Don't even get me started about detention or being grounded at home. Mme, my grandmother, never hesitated to use a wet dishcloth whenever Vusumuzi forgot to do his chores.

Regular readers of this influential column will remember that a few months ago we made a strong economic case for the legalisation of dagga, and this week the learned robes at the Constitutional Court yielded to our strong arguments and made smoking zol permissible. With a cloud still hanging over the country following that ruling, perhaps the legislators should revisit the whole corporal punishment ban.

This follows the gut-wrenching stabbing of a teacher by a 17-year-old pupil in Zeerust, North West, in full view of a class last week.

The heartbreaking death of Daniel Mokolobate was, apparently, instigated when he reprimanded the pupil for skipping the queue at the school's feeding programme.

This was not the first nor the last time a student has turned violent against a teacher in SA, and no amount of searches for weapons and condemnation by the minister will change the behaviour of these lost souls without recrimination.

The Congress of South African Students (Cosas) abandoned its leadership role a few years ago when it threatened to retaliate should any teacher mete out corporal punishment.

The parents should also not be spared responsibility when their children go rogue at school. The case of a bullied kid who took his father's gun to school is a case in point. It is a rotten and reckless parent who reminds their kid not to forget his okapi before going to school in the morning. RIP Meneer Mokolobate.

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