Maverick Citizen

GROSS MISCONDUCT ACCUSATIONS

Western Cape primary probed for abuse claims, racism and sexual bullying amongst learners

Western Cape primary probed for abuse claims, racism and sexual bullying amongst learners
Parents of a number of learners at Kronendal Primary School in Hout Bay, Western Cape, have lodged a complaint of abuse to authorities. (Photo: iStock)

Western Cape education authorities say some of the allegations have been found to be without substance at Kronendal Primary in Hout Bay, but the school has been asked to revise its code of conduct.

Corporal punishment, sexual bullying of boys by older girls and racism are some of the allegations that have been reported to Western Cape education authorities by parents of learners at a primary school.

A grievance was lodged by a concerned parent, whose name is known to Daily Maverick but is withheld to protect the identity of his child, on behalf of other parents to the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) earlier this year relating to the abuse of learners at Kronendal Primary in Hout Bay.

The claims were initially brought to the attention of the department in August but officials requested parents to put them in writing.

Kronendal headmaster Nathan Levendal declined to comment on the matter and referred questions to the WCED.

Kronendal Primary, Nathan Levendal

School principal Nathan Levendal. (Photo: Kronendal Primary / Wikipedia)

WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the department is very aware of the allegations and has acted upon them.

Hammond said they engaged with the complainant and requested that a meeting be held with the aggrieved parents.

“One parent was present and their concerns were addressed,” Hammond said.

Kronendal Primary

Kronendal Primary in in Hout Bay, Western Cape. (Photo: Kronendal Primary / Wikipedia)

A second group of parents, Hammond said, met with the WCED investigative team but these parents had distanced themselves from the complainant and the claims made in the grievance.

She said many of the allegations raised by the complainant were “without substance or evidence”.

Hammond said the school has, however, been advised to revise its Code of Conduct regarding search and seizures.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Theft, fraud, extortion – Corruption watchdog red-flags abuse of schools by governing bodies

The WCED, Hammond said, has tried to engage with the complainant on several occasions, but unfortunately the outcome of the investigation has not satisfied the parent.

“We will continue to engage with any aggrieved parent that comes forward,” Hammond said.

Daily Maverick understands that the grievances were brought to the attention of Levendal and that the complainant was asked to put the grievances in writing and encourage other parents to report to him and the school directly.

However, the complainant referred the matter to WCED.

But, the complainant has claimed that there has not been an official response from WCED about the outcome of the grievance.

Grievance

According to the undated grievance seen by Daily Maverick, a mother of a Grade 3 learner complained that her son was sexually bullied by girls in the bathroom at the school.

The mother claimed that her son was forcibly taken into a bathroom by two older girls who told him they wanted him to have sex with the nine-year-old, and tried to stop him when he ran away.

“This was reported to the headmaster [Levendal] and the girls were reprimanded. But there was no real investigation into the underlying circumstances behind this and no attempt to educate learners about these issues,” the grievance reads.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Abuse and suicide, the spectre that haunts elite boys’ schools: Parktown Boys’ High (Part Two)

Another parent allegedly reported a similar incident involving different girls.

Other allegations include:

  • Corporal punishment. The allegation was that learners were not allowed to go to the bathroom when needed. “If they eventually get permission, they have to turn out their pockets (to prevent graffiti in bathroom) and have to be accompanied by a classmate,” the grievance reads.
  • Violation of children’s rights. The grievance stated that a female teacher is known for allegedly spreading legs and arms of Grade 4, 6 and 7 boys and patting them down to see if they had markers after a bathroom graffiti incident.)
  • That a senior phase teacher was accused of being racist and using demeaning behaviour towards a parent and racism was rife in her classroom.
  • Withholding of exam reports of learners for unpaid school fees. The grievance stated that owing learners were sent home with letters of demand. “This has allegedly been going on for years until a parent confronted the school on behalf of other parents,” the grievance reads.
  • Teachers humiliating learners in class. The grievance stated that there were reports from learners to their parents that if a child did not understand something in class, they were made to stand up and say things like “I am a doos” or “I am the stupidest person in the world”.
  • That a teacher was giving an inadequate explanation of a subject in class, leaving the parents needing to supplement the teaching at home. “This same teacher punishes learners by putting them out of the classroom, forcing them to stay outside for the remainder of the lesson. There have also been reports that the teacher is often distracted and spends a lot of time on his cell phone in class,” the grievance reads.
  • That another senior phase teacher humiliated learners in front of parents and other learners when she was on duty at the gate at the end of the day. “It is understood that teachers have a responsibility to see that learners wear the correct uniform, but while other teachers point out issues politely, she does so aggressively and with the intention of humiliating the learners, especially the girls.” DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Rod H MacLeod says:

    Not another storm in a teacup directed at the Western Cape administration. I mean, the quote ” some of the allegations have been found to be without substance at Kronendal Primary in Hout Bay, but the school has been asked to revise its code of conduct” says it all. What in the name of sanity requires a full length article on the topic, other than the fact that DM still supports any cr*p that remotely burns a Western Cape issue. We have rapes, murders, deaths in school latrines in every other province in this country, but this story, this weak, jumped up cr*p, has to get headlines in DM. Come on, folks, you can do better than that.

  • Themba Nkosi says:

    I see you make a point of asking readers to ‘think twice before voicing untested claims’, yet here you are doing just that despite WCED feedback to the contrary. The accusations are specious and unsubstantiated. As stated in your article, the WCED asked the complainant to bring the aggrieved parents she claims to represent to the WCED. One parent came forward while a group of other parents went to WCED to defend the staff and school, who give so much in so many ways to their learners. The principal, teachers and other staff members at Kronendal Primary go above and beyond not just to help their learners, but the community at large. Every time there’s a disaster in the community or any time a learner has a deep need, those teachers who are lambasted in this article stay after hours, weekends & even their school holidays to coordinate community drives to assist wherever they can. These are good, honest, decent, caring people.

    I see Kronendal stakeholders have not been quoted here – no doubt advised not to comment for legal reasons. That does not give you the right to publish completely spurious attacks on the say-so of ONE individual. Showing Mr. Nathan Levendal’s photo is beyond a cheap shot – why not post the name and photo of the complainant who has so much to say despite not having proof of anything?

    It’s a sad day for Daily Maverick if this is considered responsible journalism.

    • Mareth Roos-Haupt says:

      Well said Themba, I couldn’t agree more. Totally irresponsible journalism, smearing a lovely intergrated school like KPS. And this on one unreasonable, begrudged parent’s word, without sufficient evidence! Incredibly bias and misleading. Shame on you Msindisi Fengu!

  • James Webster says:

    Let’s translate these grievances into honest English :-

    Corporal Punishment: The little snowflakes get upset because the teachers are forced to take action to prevent them from defacing school property.

    Violation of Children’s Rights: The pupils continue to defy repeated and ever more serious requests not to destroy school property and the only way the teachers can stop them from doing this is by imposing strict measures because the “innocent” pupils refuse to stop defacing the school.

    Racism: One of the teachers said something a parent did not like and so the parent played the race card ( always good in a pinch when you don’t actually have a case ).

    Withholding of School Reports: Some parents unlawfully refuse to fulfil their obligations to the school and the state and so expect the school to educate their children despite this. The school therefore legitimately withholds one of the products of the school and this upsets these parents despite them being in the wrong. After all, accountability is purely a foreign western concept.

    Teachers humiliating pupils: Pupils are so unruly and show such little respect for the teachers that teachers have to resort to increasingly harsh language before the little darlings will listen to them.

    Teaching is inadequate: Pupils don’t pay attention in class then blame the teachers when parents question them.

    Teachers humiliate pupils: Pupils and parents defy teachers and school rules at will.

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