Criminal records 'would be good for girls who beat fellow pupils' - MEC
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi is not averse to criminal records being dished out to pupils from Crystam Park High School who were filmed beating a classmate.
Addressing pupils at the Ekurhuleni school on Monday, he said: "It's the only way they are going to learn", as he called for the law to take its course.
"If they were children, they would have not done what they did," he said of the grade 8 and 9 pupils aged 14 and 15.
Lesufi visited the school after becoming aware of a video taken on Wednesday last week that showed a defenseless girl on the ground, surrounded by other female pupils who kicked and slapped her.
The young girl did not fight back but tried to cover her head as the blows rained down.
While she was being assaulted, other pupils laughed and egged on her attackers.
Lesufi said five pupils had since been arrested for the assault but were later released into the care of their parents.
He likened the brutal attack to "attempted murder".
He said the school had since suspended the group but he called on the school governing body to take its time instituting disciplinary hearings. He said it seemed as though the learners needed time to gather their thoughts and return to their senses.
The victim returned to school on Monday.
Addressing pupils, Lesufi said the most disturbing thing was that the incident involved girls.
"Society expects girl children to be protected but why do they harm another girl child .... If it's girls who look so angry, so determined to harm another girl child, we have no choice but to act," he said.
Social workers were deployed to the school to assist the victim and other pupils.
In a bid to establish what the issues were at the school, Lesufi announced several measures. He called on officials to appoint a teacher to deal with pupils' issues.
Pupils at the school, however, expressed disapproval, expressing distrust in their teachers.
School governing body chairperson Noto Madisa later told journalists that this was the first time such an incident had happened at the school. In the past they had issues with some pupils who took drugs to school.
Lesufi said pupils would be given an opportunity to write down the names of all the troublesome pupils at the school.
If the same learners were named by numerous learners, the department would take the necessary action against them.
Meanwhile, a group of people dressed in ANC regalia awaited Lesufi outside the school.
One woman told TimesLIVE that they were there in support of the victim and to call for an end to the violence seen at schools recently in the province.