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Wed Nov 26 14:46:41 SAST 2014

Pupil tells of 'racist bully'

CANAAN MDLETSHE | 13 November, 2012 00:0117 Comments
File Photo. © Daily Dispatch
Image by: Mark Andrews / Daily Dispatch

A grade 11 pupil has attempted suicide and refused to go back to a KwaZulu-Natal school, saying she is the victim of racist bullying.

The 18-year-old head girl of her grade claims that the taunts by a white classmate led to her dropping out of Hibberdene Academy, a private school, in September. Another pupil dropped out in October and was hospitalised for stress, apparently as a result of racial taunts by the same classmate.

The Grade 11 pupil tried to overdose in August. She said the classmate had been her best friend before insulting her on Facebook and in school, calling her a "black bi tch" and telling other classmates that she was a "black lowlife that thought that, by having a white friend, she would be better than other blacks".

Her mother is now desperate to get her back into the classroom because final exams are being written.

"I reported her [the alleged bully] to the principal and she was told to apologise.

"But it did not end there. She began to bad-mouth me to other pupils," said the Grade 11 pupil.

"The principal came to class and said all black students who have a problem with her can leave the school. We felt shocked and hurt," she alleged.

But principal Thalia Simpson said she treated all the pupils equally, investigated the allegations and sought a solution in the best interests of the pupils.

Simpson said it was a matter of "girls not liking each other".

"It was nowhere near bullying and it's sad that the pupil felt that way.

"As a principal, I didn't take sides. To me, a child is a child. I treat them equally.

"When it was brought to our attention that the children had a misunderstanding, we investigated and tried to solve it in the best way.

"It's all documented. We really wanted them to finish their studies but they left on their own accord," she said.

Independent Schools' Association of Southern Africa spokesman Prim Gower said her group spoke to the school and "can confirm that two sets of disciplinary procedures were followed in line with its guidelines".

"This was a case of a personality clash. Nobody was suspended and the school appealed several times to the two girls to write their end-of-year exams."

KwaZulu-Natal department of education s pokesman Sihle Mlotshwa said the allegations would be investigated.

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