SACE COURT CASE APRIL 2022

CENTRE FOR CHILD LAW AND SECTION27 TAKE SACE TO COURT FOR FAILURE TO HOLD TEACHERS ACCOUNTABLE FOR CORPORAL PUNISHMENT

21 April 2022, Johannesburg – SECTION27 is representing Centre for Child Law and the parents of two learners, in a case before the High Court of South Africa (Gauteng Division) which will be heard on 25 and 26 April 2022.

In December 2020, SECTION27, on behalf of the Centre for Child Law and the parents of two young learners (ages 7 and 10), initiated a case against the South African Council for Educators (SACE) for the shockingly lenient sanctions it imposed on two educators who pleaded guilty for assaulting learners in their classroom. In an effort to protect learners from further harm and ensure that the ban on corporal punishment is taken seriously, we are taking the body to court and requesting that it reconsiders the decisions it made in respect of the two educators, as well as revise its Mandatory Sanctions on Contraventions of the Code of Professional Ethics, used by SACE when sanctioning educators for misbehaviour.

SACE is the professional body responsible for maintaining and protecting the ethical and professional standards for educators. Their code of professional ethics expressly states that educators must refrain from any form of abuse, physical or psychological, and they are mandated to investigate and sanction any educator found guilty of this behaviour. The body is therefore one of the important institutions that can help address and stop the use of corporal punishment in schools. Sadly, they are failing in this role by imposing very lenient sanctions on educators found guilty of corporal punishment, which include suspended sentences or mere fines, without addressing teachers’ violent behaviour or equipping them with the tools they need to better manage learners and discipline them in a different way.

Although corporal punishment has been banned from South African schools since 1996, teachers are still tragically using corporal punishment as a means to discipline learners, thereby perpetuating the culture of violence and abuse that already characterises many South African Communities. Countless reports of learners being hit, thrown with objects or verbally abused in class indicates that the ban on corporal punishment is not being properly enforced in schools, and teachers are not being held properly accountable when they hurt a learner.

SACE is opposing the case, which will be heard on 25 and 26 April 2022 in the High Court of South Africa (Gauteng Division). Children’s Institute, represented by Equal Education Law Centre, has been admitted to the case as amicus curiae (friend of the court), and will be making submissions in support of our relief.

European Union funding supports SECTION27 and Centre for Child Law’s work on education rights issues.

For media queries, contact Pearl Nicodemus / nicodemus@section27.org.za/ 082 298 2636