'Teens terrorised teacher'
Sharidene Meyer, a Cape Town teacher, sobbed at her desk as the girls in her class carefully brushed the badly scorched hair from her shoulders.
Last week, the pretty 26-year-old was giving a history lesson when a Grade 8 pupil set her hair alight.
Yesterday, while the boy appeared before a disciplinary hearing at Crestway High School in Steenberg, Meyer was on her way to see a psychologist with her father Gerard.
She was too traumatised to speak about her ordeal.
Gerard said she could not sleep at night because she could not stop thinking about the assault and was extremely depressed.
"I was very disappointed at the way in which the principal dealt with the situation. After it happened, she cried in the toilets. He had [someone] fetch her and said she should carry on with the lesson," said Gerard.
"She continued crying in the classroom. Children removed the hair from her shoulders and cried with her."
Gerard said his daughter had also been physically abused by a Grade 9 boy who grabbed her and twisted her arm on February 13.
"On the same day, another Grade9 boy came into her class and remarked: ' Juffrou het lekker tette (Miss has nice boobs)'. That amounts to sexual harassment," he said.
Gerard accompanied his daughter when she reported the assaults to the police.
Meyer finished at the top of her class in matric and studied teaching at the University of Stellenbosch.
She decided to "serve her community" of Steenberg by teaching there.
When she started teaching, in 2010, her father said children often got into fights, carried knives and vandalised the school building.
Gerard said his daughter often suffered bruises to her legs because pupils pushed desks at her.
"She always complained but it is difficult to find a permanent post elsewhere," said Gerard.
Bronagh Casey, a spokesman for the provincial education department, confirmed that a boy had appeared before the school's governing body late yesterday afternoon.
"The department will ensure that [Meyer] receives support and counselling," said Casey. "The department has not received any other reports regarding the educator.
"However, we will investigate whether there have been other incidents."