Something is very wrong in KwaZulu-Natal

13 September 2017 - 05:09 By The Times Editorial
The KwaZulu-Natal department of education is planning
The KwaZulu-Natal department of education is planning "harsh action" against a teacher, from Umdlamfe Secondary School, Richards Bay, who is seen caning female pupils in a video circulating on social media.
Image: TimesLIVE/YouTube

There's something rotten in the state of KwaZulu-Natal, and you just need to look at the province's schools to know it. On Monday, a shocking video emerged of a teacher severely and repeatedly assaulting female pupils at the Umdlamfe Secondary School in Esikhawini, Richards Bay.

Perhaps more terrifying than the assaults themselves are that many of the girls' classmates are heard laughing in the background and cheering the teacher on.

While the KZN education department swooped on the King Cetshwayo district school in the wake of the viral video on Tuesday, suspending the teacher involved, officials were informed that a principal, a teacher and a security guard at the Dlangezwa High School in the same district had been charged - two of them criminally - for the sexual abuse of their pupils. These are men whose jobs are to educate and protect children, and instead they allegedly became perpetrators of horrible crimes. The three were also suspended on Tuesday.

But it doesn't stop there. The department's Muzi Mahlambi said teachers at three other schools in the same district were also served with suspension letters on Tuesday. All of them relate to sexual abuse of pupils.

That's seven teachers suspended. On one day. In one district.

But don't think this is a once-off, or is linked to one district. We have documented many more cases elsewhere in the province.

Earlier this year, the education department admitted in response to questions by DA MPL Mbali Ntuli that, between November 2014 and November 2016, 20 teachers or principals had been suspended on sexual abuse charges.

Something is very wrong in KZN schools, and not enough is being done to deal with it. Criminal charges must be pursued; convictions must happen; teachers must be fired. And it needs to happen swiftly.