Department condemns assault of schoolgirl - driver suspended

18 September 2017 - 16:00
By Ernest Mabuza

The Gauteng Department of Education on Monday condemned the assault of a 16-year-old learner at Adelaide Tambo School for the Disabled in Soweto by a food handler.

The incident‚ which was captured on a cell phone inside a scholar transport bus on the morning of September 8‚ shows the food handler repeatedly assaulting the girl until she is restrained by the driver of the bus‚ who then drags the pupil out of the bus.

The girl is then left lying on the ground crying.

The department said the parent of the learner was alerted about the incident on September 13 after the school failed to inform her.

The mother opened a case on the same day and the food handler was arrested. She was later released on bail pending the police investigations. The food handler is no longer at the school.

The bus driver was suspended on Monday. The process of counselling all affected learners has commenced‚ the department said.

The department said the incident was not reported to the district office by the school and as a result the department only learnt about it when the video footage emerged.

The department said officials from the Inclusion and Special Schools went to the school on Monday morning to investigate the incident.

In addition‚ officials from Labour Relations have launched an investigation surrounding the circumstances of the incident so that disciplinary measures could be initiated.

“We are disappointed about this incident‚ extra care must be afforded to learners with disabilities. It is shocking to see the escalating incidents of assault taking place in our schools‚ as a department we will act vigorously in making sure that the perpetrators face the might of the law‚” Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said.

The mother of the child‚ speaking to 702 on Monday morning‚ said she went to the school to report the assault.

“I was not happy with how the school handled the situation.”

She said the school treated the matter casually and had not called her since she reported it.

“They didn’t even care. They didn’t even call and check up on us.”

She said she was not aware why her child was beaten up.

“It is difficult to understand why. My daughter is bipolar‚ mentally disabled and she has epilepsy. She cannot remember anything exactly the way it happened.

“No one understands what happened‚ it is the caretaker and the driver who understand because they are the only stable people in the bus.”