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Parents 'thought she was the friendliest teacher at the school'

05 April 2019 - 07:02 By Naledi Shange and Nonkululeko Njilo
A video of a child being hit by a teacher because she vomited has caused outrage on social media.
A video of a child being hit by a teacher because she vomited has caused outrage on social media.
Image: Screengrab from the original video

It is as yet unclear whether or not the children caught on camera being assaulted at a Johannesburg creche were the only victims of this caregiver.

“She was working at the school for approximately two years,” said Danie van Zyl, who is the lawyer for the creche principal.

Although the credentials and qualifications of the child beater were not immediately available, Van Zyl told TimesLIVE that it was not the first time that the 40-year-old had worked with children.

“She and the other teacher who took the video had actually worked at another local school before they came to this particular school,” said Van Zyl.

The possibility was not ruled out that other children suffered at her hands at either school, but with many of the children being so young and barely able to express themselves, it was unlikely that any others would be identified.

The horrifying videos of a 40-year-old caregiver assaulting young children in her care at a Carletonville crèche have led to the arrest of the caregiver; police are searching for the second caregiver who captured the videos. Here’s what we know so far.

Parents at the school have expressed shock at having dealt with a wolf in sheep’s clothing, saying they would have never have attributed this kind of abuse to the teacher.

“They said they thought she was the friendliest teacher at the school,” said Van Zyl.

“This seems to have been a general perception because this woman did not [seem] dangerous. She was not hostile or unfriendly – at least towards the parents."

TimesLIVE spoke to the grandmother of one of the children enrolled at the school, who supported this claim.

“I was really shocked after the videos and that [she] was the one beating our kids. When I first heard, it didn’t immediately register because [she] was very nice and friendly to us. Every parent can tell you this,” the woman said.

“But she laughed with us knowing that she was beating our children behind our back. She is cruel.”

The series of videos show how the woman senselessly beat the children, one not even two years old.

The video showed how the caregiver smacked the children on the buttocks, slapped them on their heads with open hands and beat another with a wooden scrubbing brush.

She had also grabbed the children by the collars, threw them on the carpet and even laid her booted foot on one of their faces.

According to Van Zyl, the abusive caregiver had continued to work at the school until last week.

“When the school principal received the videos, she confronted her and that is when she left,” said Van Zyl.

A case was opened against her, leading to her appearing in court and later being released on bail.

But the abuse would most probably never have been exposed had the other caregiver, who was believed to have filmed all three of the assaults, not been fired. It was alleged that following her dismissal for another matter, she had threatened to leak the footage to the parents as well as on social media.

This particular caregiver has been away from the school since October 2018, meaning the abuse must have taken place some time prior to her departure.

Van Zyl could not immediately comment on what vetting process the school had used to hire its teachers, but for now the school remains closed.

“The school will remain closed until [the principal] has the necessary documentation,” said Van Zyl, who explained that when social development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza visited the school, she found that it was not properly registered.

The facility had about 18 children but Van Zyl said the numbers had dwindled in the last couple of months.

Asked how the school principal was doing following the latest developments, Van Zyl said she was not well.

“She is taking it quite badly. She is worried about the threats on her life. She has received more than 200 threats today. What is worrying is that people are more focused on the principal than on the perpetrators of this crime.

"She is in a bad emotional state and she is more concerned about what had happened to the children. She described the acts done by the teacher as evil,” said van Zyl.

He confirmed that police were now searching for the disgruntled who had taken the videos.