Bullying at school worries mother

A Lansdowne mother is worried about the safety of her children at Belthorn Primary School.

A Lansdowne mother is worried about the safety of her two sons after one was gagged by a teacher and the other assaulted by a bully, she says, at Belthorn Primary School.

Police are investigating after Bonita Africa’s 14-year-old son was allegedly assaulted by another pupil on Thursday August 22.

According to Ms Africa, her son suffered a gash to the left side of his head after another boy hit him with a school bag with a pair of scissors inside it. And earlier in the year, she says, she visited the school to find her 8-year-old son – who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – sitting with his hands in the air and gagged with sticky tape by his teacher for “talking too much”. 

The teacher, according to Ms Africa, had threatened to gag her child with duct tape if he didn’t stop “moaning”.

Ms Africa said her 8-year-old had complained of daily bullying at the school – pupils were throwing sand in his face and taking his lunch. She had complained to the principal several times, but no action had been taken. Her 8-year-old now feared going to school.

The subsequent alleged attack on her 14-year-old had heightened her fears for her sons’ safety at the school, she said.

“His teacher phoned to say come in he was injured but said there is nothing to worry about. I asked if it is bad. She said no.

“The next thing, learners came running out of school to my house and told me my son is badly injured.

“I left everything and ran to school. When I got there, he was full of blood – it was running down his face and out of his one ear.

“I asked if they called the ambulance and the principal kept saying no it is nothing to worry about.

“He was sitting on a bed, and I kept on for them to call an ambulance, but they didn’t. I lifted him off the bed and said, ‘Now you will take me to the doctor.’ Eventually, they took me to the doctor down the road, and I was sent to Red Cross and then to Groote Schuur Hospital.”

According to Ms Africa, a local doctor had assessed her son and told her to open an assault case at the police station.

The teen received five stitches on the left side of his head and returned to school last week.

According to Ms Africa, when she asked the principal whether her son’s alleged assailant had been suspended and whether the school had contacted his parents, the principal told her the school was still trying to reach the boy’s parents.

“I waited for three days but nothing,” Ms Africa said. “I went back to school and asked again what’s happening, and she said he is suspended.”

But when Ms Africa had gone to fetch her younger son at school she had seen the alleged bully at the school gate.

She had asked the principal about that but had not received a response, she said.

“Last week that same boy threw the windows out at the school and only then was he suspended. I really don’t know what is happening at that school.

“The principal said she will solve it, but nothing has happened. I had to keep my son out of school, and he did nothing wrong, because I fear for his safety.”

Acting school principal Elzaan Wyngaard said the incident involving Ms Africa’s 8-year-old son had been dealt with by the previous principal. Ms Africa had met with the teacher and that principal and the matter had been resolved.

Ms Wyngaard said there had been a delay in suspending the boy who had allegedly assaulted Ms Africa’s 14-year-old son because she had battled to contact the boy’s mother.

On Thursday August 29, Ms Africa visited the Western Cape Education Department in Maitland after she had previously been to the branches in Mitchell’s Plain and Cape Town. She said she had been told that a social worker would be sent to the school and that she would be contacted but that had not happened.

Lansdowne police spokesman Sergeant Nkululeko Mnyaka confirmed they were investigating.

The circuit manager is also investigating, according to Western Cape Education Department spokeswoman, Millicent Merton.

“The Western Cape Education Department advocates that governing bodies address the issue of bullying in the school’s code of conduct. When bullying does rear its head at schools, either the School Based Support Team or the district social worker mediates the process between victim and perpetrator. Serious cases of bullying are referred to the governing body for a formal disciplinary meeting,” she said.

Ms Wyngaard said that both parents had been called in and the matter had been resolved.

She said that according to pupils a fight had broken out between the two boys with Ms Africa’s son throwing the first punch. The other boy had retaliated.

“If the mother still has questions, she is most welcome to make an appointment with me. I tried to solve the matter to the best of my ability, and we have anti-bullying programmes weekly at our school,” she said.

However, Ms Africa said her son had told her that he had not started the fight.