Teacher still at work after ‘beating’ disabled pupil

A Gauteng teacher who allegedly assaulted and “traumatised” a disabled pupil and broke one of her hearing aids is still at work, seven months after the incident.

The female teacher, only known as Ms Mashilo, got in hot water in October last year after she allegedly slapped Siphokazi Matlhaku and other pupils at Relebogile High School in Khutsong near Carletonville.

Siphokazi required psychological help after the incident, according to her medical record.

Mashilo was arrested and released on bail. However, Siphokazi’s family later withdrew the criminal case after Mashilo apologised, with the hope that the Gauteng department of education would subject her to an internal disciplinary hearing.

The medical records seen by Sunday World confirmed that Siphokazi was seen by a specialist from HearCare Private Hospital, who confirmed her right ear was badly injured and needed urgent treatment after the beating.

“The above-mentioned patient was seen by HearCare. She has been our patient for a while and she received new hearing aids. She was assaulted by her teacher at school and her right hearing aid had some damage. After the assault, she also experiences some pain in her ear.”

“The patient is traumatised and it is recommended that she be referred to a psychologist for further treatment,” the document read.

Now Siphokazi’s mother, Sarah Matlhaku, who gave Sunday World access to her daughter’s medical records, wants to know why Mashilo was not suspended and charged in connection with the assault. She said she was not happy that the department of
education has allowed Mashilo to continue with her life as if nothing happened.

“I am not happy that the teacher who assaulted my disabled child so badly is still getting her salary and tormenting our children every day as they were not even taken to counselling. She got arrested and released on bail but I decided to withdraw the case after she admitted and apologised. She paid the R25 000 medical bill,” said Matlhaku.

Even though she withdrew the case, Matlhaku said the department was dragging its feet in dealing with Mashilo’s case. The irate mother said the thought of seeing Mashilo in class made her child want nothing to do with schooling.

It is alleged that Masilo went to the grade 8 class where she asked the pupils to write a formal letter. However, some pupils did not write it properly. Mashilo allegedly got angry and started to slap Siphokazi and other children, while also pulling their hair.

In an interview recorded as video footage and seen by Sunday World, several pupils confirmed the teacher went mad and assaulted them at random.

“She assaulted Siphokazi so badly that her hearing aids got broken and fell to the ground. I saw her crying and she ran out of the classroom going to the principal office. It is not the first time she slapped us. I remember there was a time when she would get into the classroom and make some jokes and when I laughed she started slapping me in the face,” said one of the pupils who did not want to give his name fearing he might be targeted.

In another clip, another pupil said: “She told us that we disrespected her by failing to write the letter the way she wanted us to. That’s when she started to beat us. We cried but she continued.”

Mashilo could not be reached for comment as her phone was off. Her lawyer, Edward Mathews, failed to respond to a request for comment.

Relebogile School Governing Body (SGB) chairperson, Benny Kekana, said Mashilo had not been suspended because they “believe that she is innocent”.

“Instead of suspending her, we recommended that she be taken to another school while the matter was being investigated. Our investigation as [the] SGB revealed that the teacher touched the child and the hearing aids fell to the ground and broke. The mother of the child just needed money from the teacher.

“Now the teacher is back here and teaching. You know this teacher has 25 years’ experience in teaching. She cannot do such a thing. We will support her until the case is finalised,” Kekana said.

While National Association of School Governing Body president Matakanye Matakanye declined to comment on the suspension issue, he stressed that it is illegal to apply corporal punishment.

“Corporal punishment is outlawed, so the department needs to investigate and if that is found to be true then the teacher must be fired. I am told the parent already accepted the teacher’s apology and that is wrong. They must allow the law to take its course without accepting apologies from the accused.”

Gauteng department of education spokesperson Steven Mabona failed to respond to the questions sent to him via email.

For more education news from Sunday World, click here.

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