AN incident in which a Grade 9 pupil was assaulted at Swakopmund’s Westside High School last Thursday has sparked a police investigation as well as interventions from social workers.
One video of the incident shows a group of boys throwing another boy to he ground, and beating him, before he was able to get up and run away. The attackers pursued him and the boy sustained a ‘massive deep wound’ to his head after allegedly being hit with a belt-buckle wielded by one of the alleged attackers.
Other videos show the chaos at the school as some pupils shouted and ran toward the fight, while others are seen attempting to flee.
The incident saw the police being summoned to investigate, and also raised concerns of ill-discipline in the school system.
Erongo governor Neville Andre met with pupils, school staff, the school board, the police and parents on Friday. “We had to look at what caused this, and also try and find a solution. These are school –children behaving like this. The police are investigating, and the social workers will be involved too,” he told The Namibian.
School principal Veneza Rheeder said that the new pupil allegedly threatened a Grade 8 pupil at the school, which resulted in an argument and the assault in which the friends of the Grade 8 pupil allegedly ganged up against the new pupil. “We are still trying to figure out what happened. They protect each other and do not want to talk. This, however, seems to be something that is from the outside of the school,” she said.
Rheeder said there was some uncertainty surrounding the new pupil’s parents or guardians not being directly involved in the enrolment of the pupil. There is also reportedly ‘sketchy information’ about where (or if) the pupil attended school last year.
Rheeder said after the incident – in her office – the boy threatened to take vengeance by stabbing the culprit, which called for his removal for the safety of all concerned.
“The school follows a strict disciplinary procedure as mandated by the Education Act, but the process does not seem to have any effect on the children’s behaviour,” said Rheeder. “Parents are not being transparent, and they are blaming the school for the results that will never be achieved as long as the children are not willing to educate themselves,” she said.
She said it was the responsibility of pupils, parents and teachers to ensure the effectiveness of the school. “The school management is limited in their disciplinary action,” she said.
The school is “handicapped” because of the Education Act that does not allow for expulsion by the school board, she said.
“It only allows for suspensions, and a lengthy, emotionally draining, and expensive process that leaves the learner’s attitude untouched. It seems serious action will only take place if there will be a dead body,” she said.
Erongo police spokesperson inspector Ileni Shapumba said preliminary investigations revealed that there were some underlying issues that may have led to the incident, but that it did not seem as if it was a premeditated attack by a formed gang.
“The school should be a safe and conducive learning environment for all pupils. The case is still under investigation,” he said, adding that the parents of the children involved also have a responsibility in the matter.
“As the saying goes, charity begins at home, and it is important for parents to set rules and teach their children to respect rules both at home, at school, and in the community. This will help to prevent children from engaging in disruptive behaviour and causing issues with teachers and other students,” he said.
Shapumba said it was also important for parents to be honest with the school administration and provide accurate information about their children’s behaviour, in order for the school to take appropriate actions to address any issues.