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African Eye News Service, South Africa, 13 March 2000
Pupils Run Riot At Township Schools
By Sizwe sama Yende
Middelburg - A group of angry Mpumalanga pupils ran riot on Monday and stoned teachers' cars in protest against corporal punishment. Police arrested over 60 pupils from Sozama Secondary School at Mhluzi near Middelburg who also disrupted classes in the township's other two schools, said police spokesman Captain Malcolm Mokomeni.
He said the pupils were charged with malicious damage to property and public violence. "We might add more charges at a later stage as more affected teachers come up. At the moment the police are still establishing the damage caused," Mokomeni said. Mokomeni said that according to unconfirmed police information, the riot was started by a group of boys who were playing volleyball in school hours last Thursday. "The boys allegedly made nasty remarks to a teacher who warned them to go to class, and the teacher got angry and beat one of them," Mokomeni explained. On Friday the pupils visited the local police station commander to complain about the use of corporal punishment.
"The commissioner told them he would convene a meeting with the teachers, parents and pupil's representative body on Monday," Mokomeni said. On Monday, the pupils rioted instead of attending the meeting. They disrupted classes at the nearby Mphanama High School and police had to intervene when they tried to disrupt classes at Sofunda High School, Mokomeni said. Mpumalanga Education spokesman Peter Maminza said the children had no right to "disrupt and infringe on the rights of others to education". He said they were to go back to school and wait for education authorities to resolve the matter. He said the department would take disciplinary measure if the allegations of corporal punishment were confirmed.
African Eye News Service, South Africa, 15 March 2000
Debates to seek alternatives to corporal punishment at schools
By Sharon Hammond
Pietersburg - The continued use of corporal punishment at rural schools in Northern Province has prompted the SA Human Rights Commission to introduce a series of debates on the issue. The debates will be launched on Human Rights Day next Tuesday.
Provincial SAHRC co-ordinator, Ntshole Mabapa, said on Wednesday that 14 township and rural schools had been identified to participate in the debates.
"The intention is to get the schools to come up with ideas to instill discipline instead of resorting to corporal punishment," she explained.
She said only rural and township schools had been targeted as corporal punishment was not prevalent in the towns and cities. The debates will begin in earnest in April, with two schools from each of the province's seven regions participating. The debates will culminate in a large provincial debate in September.
The SAHRC has been operating in the province for only a year, but has identified serious human rights abuses in what is South Africa's poorest and most rural region.
Mabapa said the abuse of women and farm workers was especially problematic and that a series of human rights debates would also be held to address these issues.
She said Northern Province residents knew very little about their rights.
"We have realised there is a serious lack of awareness of the Constitution, human rights and knowledge on how to access institutions for assistance," she explained.
The human rights debate on corporal punishment is being organised in conjunction with the South African Council of Churches, which started training volunteers last week who will go to the worst performing schools in the province to impart management skills.
Copyright (c) 2000 African Eye News Service.
ANC News Briefs, 28 March 2000
SAHRC reacts to judge's remarks on corporal punishment
JOHANNESBURG 28 March 2000 Sapa
The SA Human Rights Commission has criticised remarks attributed to the Judge President of the Transvaal, Bernard Ngoepe, that corporal punishment should be administered as long as it did not degenerate into abuse, as inappropriate. The remarks appeared in a Johannesburg newspaper this week in a report on a conference on the state of education in the Northern Province, at which Ngoepe was a speaker.
"His utterances may be understood to encourage corporal punishment and that flies in the face of efforts of bodies such as the SAHRC to inculcate the culture of human rights in schools," the commission said in a statement on Tuesday.
SAHCR spokesman Siseko Njobeni said the commission had received complaints about the unabated use of corporal punishment in schools. "The commission is planning to hold a workshop with teacher organisations and representatives of learners to discuss guidelines for alternative forms of discipline."
He said teachers and pupils continued to defy legal provisions of the Schools Act.
"They see corporal punishment as a solution to the problems of ill discipline in our schools.
"But the SAHRC maintains that the negative effects and psychological consequences of corporal punishment are too severe," said Njobeni.
ANC News Briefs, 31 March 2000
Statutory law forbids teachers from using corporal punishment: Ngoepe
PRETORIA 31 March 2000 Sapa
Statutory law forbade teachers from using corporal punishment on their pupils, Transvaal Judge President Bernard Ngoepe said on Friday.
Clarifying a statement attributed to him that there was no provision in law precluding the use of corporate punishment, Ngoepe said this was indeed the case in terms of common law.
"If statutory law has been passed to prohibit it on learners, so be it," he said in a statement issued in Pretoria.
He explained the difference between the two types of law by saying murder and theft constituted offences in terms of common law, even though no Act had been passed against them.
Common law, Ngoepe said, allowed corporal punishment by parents and people in the legal control of children in their parents' absence, provided that such punishment did not exceed reasonable limits.
This no longer applied to teachers. "I am not interested in the debate about the acceptability or otherwise of corporal punishment, or in any other debate about the issue," the statement said.
Ngoepe was reported as saying at the weekend that the law made provision for corporal punishment to be administered "with love and purpose".
It could be dispensed in schools as long as it did not degenerate into abuse, a daily newspaper on Monday quoted him as saying.
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