School vs dad: Did 'bullied' kids start the fight?
Parents of allegedly taunted boy want school to take action, but school says the parents’ kids were the instigators
An apparent bullying incident last week at Theo Wassenaar Primary School, south of Johannesburg, where the parents of a boy said he was taunted and called “gay”, has taken a new turn. The school’s governing body (SGB) now says the parents’ children were the instigators. SGB chairperson Jack Chirwa said the school investigated the matter by speaking to other parties involved.
“We discovered that the parents who reported the matter to Times Select were the ones whose children were the instigators of the incident,” said Chirwa.
He also accused the parents of violating the school’s parents code of conduct by storming the premises “based on false allegations against a staff member”.
“The complainants’ children have been in the school for a while now, and the school has had other incidents in the past regarding them. Their past complaints to the school about bullying were investigated, and due process was followed, and the matter was investigated and closed,” said Chirwa.
But the father, who cannot be named to protect his 13-year-old son, told Times Select: “I am not going to stop this, I will consult with my lawyers as they are failing to protect my child.”
On that afternoon, according to the parents, their 13-year-old was called “gay” and assaulted by other kids. When his younger nine-year-old brother tried to intervene, he was allegedly kicked. Their older brother, who was sitting in the car outside the school, investigated the commotion and was later joined by their father.
The police and community policing forum were called to defuse the situation.
On Tuesday, Chirwa sent Times Select “eyewitness” statements, mostly from teachers.
One of the teachers said the father came into school and argued with a staff member.
“I then tried to speak to the dad and asked him not to fight like this in school and to take his children and go. He would not listen and carried on,” said the Grade 2 teacher.
Another teacher said: “I was on my way to class when I noticed an incident. I ran towards the commotion thinking pupils may be fighting, only to notice a youngster, not in uniform and not from the school, verbally abusing [one of the teachers], threatening to assault her and moving forward towards her.
“I managed to get through the crowd of pupils and between the youngster and the teacher. At this point, I had raised my hand to keep him away as he continued to move forward into my raised hand.”
The teacher said the father entered the school and verbally abused her.
“He threatened to assault me because he was told that I had assaulted his son.”
Another teacher said she saw two boys fighting.
“I then saw the other boy got punched in the face but could not see who threw the punch as the crowd got too big. Another fight broke out, and I had to call other male teachers, and the father approached [a male staff member] saying: ‘I am going to fuck you up,’ using more bad language.”
The father did not deny he had sworn. “I was angry; they were beating my children. I swore at him, yes, I did. But the problem here is that this school is denying that there’s bullying in the school,” he said.
The father said he was scheduled to have a meeting with the school principal and the Gauteng education department on Thursday. The provincial education department earlier this week said it was in the process of investigating what exactly happened last Friday.