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VIOLENT EDUCATION

Cape Town learner attacked with ‘brick, knuckle dusters and a piece of wood’ by fellow pupils

Cape Town learner attacked with ‘brick, knuckle dusters and a piece of wood’ by fellow pupils
The Grade 10 pupil at Belgravia High School who was allegedly assaulted on the school grounds. (Photo: Supplied)

Parents fear for their son’s safety even as Western Cape education MEC promises ‘to make schools safer’.

The father of a Grade 10 pupil at a Cape Town school has laid charges of assault after his son was attacked by fellow pupils last Thursday and Friday (23 and 24 March) – on school grounds and in the middle of the school day. 

The Belgravia High School pupil has told police he was attacked with a brick and a plank of wood. He also alleges one of his assailants was armed with knuckle dusters.

This comes as Western Cape education MEC David Maynier told the provincial parliament on Wednesday that “we need to find ways to make our schools safer”.

Nigel Stemmet, the father of the Grade 10 pupil (who is 18), filed an assault case at the Athlone police station on Wednesday against the pupils suspected of assaulting his son, who suffered head injuries. Stemmet is also seeking a protective order to prevent a recurrence.

The police have confirmed the case and that they are investigating. “I closed my eyes when I saw my son. I was shocked to see my kid being beaten up like this,” said Stemmet.

Millicent Merton, deputy director of communication at the Western Cape education department (WCED), said: “The school took disciplinary action in terms of their code of conduct. The learners were suspended and a disciplinary hearing has been scheduled.”

According to the incident report seen by Daily Maverick, two altercations occurred on the school grounds, on Thursday (23 March) and on Friday (24 March) at 10.30am. In the first incident, the Grade 10 pupil claims a brick was thrown at him, which hit his left leg.

According to the report, the pupil said he told his attacker that he would “catch him”. He said he was able to throw his attacker to the ground. 

That was not the end, however. 

The Grade 10 pupil from Belgravia High School who was allegedly assaulted on the school grounds. (Photo: Supplied)

The Grade 10 pupil continues in the report that, on Friday, 24 March:

“He [his alleged attacker] arrived at school with knuckle dusters and attempted to strike me, but I was able to move away … I threw him down again, telling him to stop and that I didn’t want to fight. We both walked away.”

However, things deteriorated during the first school break and, according to the pupil, his attacker returned with his friends and wanted to fight.

“I said I didn’t want to fight, but he pushed me and I fell, and then all his friends started hitting me, they were 10 to 15 boys, and someone hit me over the head with a piece of wood. I tried to get up off the floor, but they jumped on my back,” according to the incident report.

Other pupils rushed towards the commotion and were able to rescue the Grade 10 pupil. He was escorted to the sick bay where he removed his bloodstained clothes. His parents picked him up from school and drove him to the doctor.

Stemmet told Daily Maverick that seeing his son with bloodied clothes and a bruised face broke his heart.

“I closed my eyes when I saw my son. I was shocked to see my kid being beaten up like this.”

His son has returned to school. While the alleged attackers are being escorted at school, Stemmet is concerned that his son could be attacked outside the school grounds.

In March 2022, Daily Maverick reported that school violence was a global phenomenon. On the back of a spate of violent attacks at schools, experts said school violence was a long-standing, systematic issue.

During the debate on the 2023 State of the Nation Address, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga emphasised the importance of tackling social ills in schools. These included bullying, gender-based violence, child pregnancy, and alcohol and drug peddling.

“Our schools must be safe, weapons-free, substance-free spaces for learners and teachers, where corporal punishment, sexual abuse, gender-based violence, homophobia, racism, substance abuse and bullying are not tolerated,” she said.

The Grade 10 Belgravia High School pupil suffered a head injury. (Photo: Supplied)

Data from the WCED on the number of assaults on school grounds since the beginning of 2023 portrays a bleak picture – 24 in January, 95 in February, and 64 so far in March. According to Merton, the number of learners who have been suspended is not available.

The WCED also has strategies in place to address school violence. These include:

  • Building relationships between the parents, learners and the broader school community – and involving the local community in the school which includes holiday and after school programmes;
  • Training teachers, parents and learners to identify and address aggressive learners;
  • Giving schools access to social workers and educational psychologists to provide psycho-social support;
  • Giving learners a voice within the appropriate school structures as they need to be part of the solution; and
  • Building a human rights culture in schools to make everyone feel welcome.

Meanwhile, Maynier said in his budget address to the Western Cape parliament on Wednesday that “we need to find ways to make our schools safer”.

“We plan to spend R76.1-million this year on securing our schools and promoting the safety of learners at school… also expanding the number of School Resource Officers in our school, which are law enforcement officers stationed at our schools to tackle crime and safety matters.

“This year, we will fund an additional 18 School Resource Officers, bringing the total number of officers deployed in our schools to 46. And next year, we will add another 18. And the year after that, another 18, for a total of 82 officers in our schools.” DM

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