‘Culture of silence’ slows investigation into abuse at Parktown Boys’: Lesufi
Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi has instructed Parktown Boys’ High School’s governing body (SGB) to review the school’s code of conduct following allegations of victimisation of pupils.
This is to ensure that there is a clear procedure for reporting and managing incidents of abuse and other matters in the school.
During his visit at the school on Tuesday‚ the MEC pleaded with pupils to break the culture of silence and speak out against any violation and report cases without any fear of being victimised.
An investigation was conducted at the school following complaints from some parents that pupils were being victimised by some educators.
Among the complaints being investigated was a case involving four educators – two employed by the department and two by the SGB - who were implicated in allegations of racism. Lesufi said the educators would be placed on precautionary suspension from the school before the end of this week. A disciplinary hearing would be held at a later stage.
“There was an allegation that learners were smeared with deep heat on their private parts. No evidence was found‚ we strongly believe that the culture of silence might have played a major role.
“On allegations that learners were compelled to use the same blade to shave‚ a new process must be implemented with immediate effect to avert such unhygienic practices‚” Lesufi said in a statement.
There was also an allegation that strippers were brought to the school hostel night parties‚ of which no evidence was found‚ he added.
“The culture of silence in the school impeded the gathering of evidence‚” Lesufi said. Among other things‚ the MEC has strongly criticised the sale of alcohol in the school environment and has advised that the liquor licence granted to a bar in the school precinct be revoked.
“There must be clear division of roles and responsibilities between the Department‚ SGB‚ the School Management Team and the Foundation. This will ensure that the lines are not blurred between the Foundation and the SGB specifically‚” said Lesufi.
The MEC announced that the process of appointing a new principal had been completed and that he would start on June 1.
“We are on course to protect public education. Any person who wants to tarnish the image of the school will be dealt with accordingly. Learners must be protected‚ educators must teach and not violate learners or commit any misconduct. All learners must be treated equally and their dignity protected in our institutions. Any form of discrimination and abuse would not be tolerated‚” said Lesufi.