South Africa: Student Undergoes Surgery After Alleged Corporal Punishment

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A 19-year-old student from KwaMncane High School in Elandskop, Pietermaritzburg, had surgery on his hand after a teacher beat him for not doing homework. Corporal punishment is illegal in South Africa.

On Thursday last week, Xolo Khuboni and other classmates were each given three strokes on their hands with a hard plastic pipe as punishment for not doing English homework.

On the Friday, Khuboni’s right hand started to swell. His mother, Lindi Khuboni, said that at first the family didn’t take the matter seriously, but the hand became very swollen and there was pus inside. He couldn’t move his fingers and he was in a lot of pain. By Monday, they took him to the nearest clinic. He ended up having an operation at Edendale Hospital.

His mother said, “When he told me his teacher had beaten him, I just ignored it, because teachers do punish children at school.”

Khuboni missed his first term exams because of the operation.

When he confronted the teacher, she told him “she doesn’t care or regret” what she did. She accused him of lying, saying his hand could have been injured some other way.

“I have missed writing my exams for this term. Not only I have missed my exams, but I can’t use my hand,” said Khuboni.

His mother said she reported the matter to Jollies Dlamini, the school principal. He denied this and said he was not aware of the incident. Asked if the school used corporal punishment, Dlamini said, “No.”

Spokesperson for the Department of Education Muzi Mahlambi said the department will follow up on the matter. “We have been clear to the teachers about corporal punishment. Some of them have seen the department taking further steps on their fellow colleagues who behave in this manner. We are appealing to the teachers to conduct themselves in a manner that will not jeopardize their jobs. We will look at the matter as now we are aware of it,” said Mahlambi.