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Video clips: South Africa: real school canings

Schooolboy being caned

With comments by C. Farrell

South Africa - Schoolboy caning: three clips.


Date: 2012
Duration: 1 minute

This very interesting and rare footage shows a near-perfect example of a formal schoolboy caning session in the best English tradition, carried out at a private secondary school in the Eastern Cape. It takes place in an otherwise empty classroom.

 Those present are the student being disciplined, the caning operator, a teacher standing to one side who observes the proceedings, and the person who took the film (there is reason to think this could be another errant student who had his turn just previously). All four are evidently there purely for the purpose of this disciplinary ceremony, in what is presumably a customary procedure at this school. This makes the event more or less equivalent to a private office caning -- something we hardly ever get to see, compared with the many video clips of more informal and often jocular classroom CP in various parts of the world.

 The miscreant wears the classic school uniform of tie, white shirt, grey pullover and grey long trousers. He looks to be toward the top end of the 13-21 age range of this school, or maybe he is just rather tall: at any rate he is taller than the staff member punishing him. He has been instructed -- or perhaps did not need to be instructed, if he had been through this before -- to bend over tight and hold on to a low bar, presenting a taut target for the cane (see picture at top of this page).

 The atmosphere in the room is calm, matter-of-fact and absolutely serious. There is nothing ad hoc about it. Few words are spoken, apart from some mumbling by the operator as the scene progresses, presumably in Xhosa. There is no hint of anger on the part of the staff, which is as it should be.

Student rubs buttocks after caning "Six of the best" are vigorously administered. The recipient can be heard grunting in pain after the first, second, third and fifth strokes, and gasping for breath after the fourth. The proceedings are momentarily interrupted after the second stroke when the student fails to keep still, prompting the operator to tap the back of his legs to coax him back into position with his feet together.

 At the end of six hard strokes, the young man stands up, rubbing his stinging buttocks (see picture at right), but is told "one more", whereupon he obediently resumes his position for a final, slightly less forceful seventh stroke.

One more The role of the second adult, leaning against the wall at right, is intriguing. He is more formally dressed than the man wielding the cane. My hunch (but I could be wrong) is that he is the man in charge of the event -- the boy's housemaster or form-master perhaps? -- who, having decided that a caning was required, has delegated the performance of it to a less senior colleague, who maybe is not even a teacher but is the school's designated discipline person. When the youth has stood up after the sixth stroke, there is a very brief moment, visible only in slow motion, when he turns to look questioningly towards this teacher as if for further instructions (pictured right), and I think it is he who is heard, in response, ordering the boy to receive an extra stroke, perhaps for not keeping his legs still earlier.

Student leaves room Immediately after the seventh stroke, the young man stands up again, and his hands momentarily go to his backside once more before he moves towards the exit, where he stands back to let the two staff members go through the door first (pictured right).

Student leaving after being canedAll the participants leave the building together and are seen going their separate ways. The caned lad, after politely holding the door open for the cameraperson behind him, walks calmly enough back to his class (pictured right). He may be satisfied that he took his punishment fairly well.

 As the two staff members walk away together from the place of punishment, the caning operative is waving his cane about in the view of some students at the other side of the courtyard, leaving them in no doubt as to what has just been going on.

 The implement used looks reasonably solid, but it is a little on the short side, so although this was a solemn and fairly serious punishment, and obviously hurt, it might not have been quite as severe, stroke for stroke, as a senior schoolboy caning in Singapore, where school canes are about one metre long.

 Corporal punishment has theoretically been outlawed in South African schools since the mid-1990s, but the ban is not much enforced by the authorities, especially perhaps in the case of private schools such as this one. In practice, it seems that many schools find it useful to deploy CP wherever the parents approve of it.



Date: 2011
Duration: 30 seconds

This clip is of fairly poor picture quality. Where the first clip (above) is entirely solemn and serious, this one is light-hearted. A large number of teen boys in uniform take turns to bend over the end of a desk for one vigorous whack on the backside with what I think might be a metre rule. It is a rushed, quickfire proceeding, the teacher shouting "Next!" after each boy amid an atmosphere of some hilarity, with much clutching of buttocks.



Date: 2015
Duration: 1½ minutes

In clip, two big high-school boys in blue jumpers are caned vigorously across the seat of their long grey trousers, five sharp strokes each with a proper whippy rattan. They are required to come to the front of the class and lean forward with hands on a desk.

 What a contrast between the two in the way they respond to corporal discipline. The first student writhes about between strokes and staggers around rubbing his buttocks, while the teacher waits patiently for him to resume his position. The second youth shows how it should be done: he bends over readily, takes his five brisk strokes well, and wins a round of applause from the class as he moves back to his place.


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