Truce sought between Cape Town teacher in 'slap' video and the pupil she hit
A union representing a Western Cape teacher who was caught on video slapping a pupil in a classroom at a Cape Town school this month is advocating for "dialogue" between the educator and the girl.
The Sans Souci Girls' High School teacher is scheduled to appear in the Wynberg magistrate's court on February 27 over the incident.
Chris Klopper, the CEO of the SA Teachers' Union (SAOU), said the teacher was also scheduled to appear before a disciplinary hearing at the school on the same day.
Klopper said that besides providing the teacher with legal support, the union would like to broker peace between the two.
"What we would like to see from this process is that the personalities get together and have a discussion," said Klopper.
"I think their lives have been put on hold. They have reached an impasse. It is very important for both of them to start moving on again. It is not a question of enforcing one's rights at all costs.
"In education, the soft balance approach is always the best because, ultimately, you are dealing with people's lives and futures. That is why you do not always deal with these in a legalistic manner. There are other options."
Klopper said the disciplinary hearing sat on Thursday, but the union asked the school governing body to reschedule it. He said they would ask for another postponement because the next date clashes with the court hearing.
"We applied for postponement based on the fact that we want to get a psychological investigation going, and that is taking place today [Friday]. We will use that during the disciplinary hearing as well as in the criminal charges," said Klopper.
"I think the psychological consultation, to a large extent, will direct us as to how we deal with the matter further. We have appointed our experienced legal advisor to attend to the disciplinary hearing and a Cape Town-based attorney, who is astute in criminal proceedings, to deal with criminal proceedings."
Klopper said schools need to put anger management mechanisms in place for both teachers and pupils.
In the video, the female teacher can be heard shouting at the pupil saying: "You must have a book like this, please take this as evidence. This is a disciplinary hearing now. Your phone shouldn't have been in your hand. You shouldn't have a phone. You wanna challenge me?"
The teacher goes on to say: "My dear you gonna get last. I have been where you are. I have two degrees, working on the third one. You don't even have a book in Grade 9 ..."
The teacher then takes a piece of paper and says: "You know what it says about phones. You should obey that. Why don't you have a book?"
The pupil then claims that the teacher swore at her.
The teacher responds: "What did I swear? What did I say to you?"
The pupil says: "Everybody heard you."
The teacher then says: "Come, uit my class."
The learner says something but it is inaudible, and the teacher replies: "Are you swearing at me? You are speaking a different language, in my class?"
The teacher then switches to Afrikaans and then pushes the desk towards the pupil and gets close to the pupil’s face. The pupil pushes it back towards the teacher and stands up.
The teacher shouts: "Are you hitting me?"
She then slaps the pupil and says: "You push me, you swear at me."
The video was widely shared on social media.