Tuesday 23 July

JUDGE GRANTS LEAVE TO APPEAL IN SACE CASE

SECTION27, representing Centre for Child Law and two parents, to advance to Supreme Court of Appeal to enforce the corporal punishment ban

6 December 2022 – Judge Dawie Fourie of the High Court of South Africa (Gauteng Division, Pretoria) today granted SECTION27’s application for leave to appeal in the South African Council of Educators (SACE) case, which concerns the actions of two violent educators who employed corporal punishment in classrooms.

SECTION27, on behalf of the Centre for Child Law and two parents, will now proceed to file papers at the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein. The children of the parents we represent were severely injured by teachers, who – despite pleading guilty to corporal punishment – received very lenient sentences from SACE. Both teachers were fined R15,000 but only paid R5,000 each because R10,000 of the fines were suspended. They also received another suspended sentence of having their names struck off the roll of educators for 10 years, which means that the teachers are still in classrooms unless they are found guilty of another offence. We would like the SCA to order SACE to review these sentences so that these violent teachers are no longer allowed to teach after being found guilty of corporal punishment.

Judge Fourie initially ruled that the applicants had not instituted review proceedings of these sentences without “unreasonable delay,” as contemplated in section 7(1) of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act of 2000 (PAJA). In our heads of argument for leave to appeal, we noted that PAJA allows parties to launch review proceedings later than 180 days where the “interests of justice” require it.

Regarding our application for leave to appeal, Judge Fourie noted: “I am of the view that there is a reasonable prospect of success… that another court may come to a different conclusion than I did. As a result, both applications should be granted.” Accordingly, Judge Fourie granted our leave to appeal, as well as SACE’s cross-appeal application. You can read the order of court here.

After being granted leave to appeal, SECTION27’s Faranaaz Veriava commented: “Advancing to the Supreme Court of Appeal is an important step towards better accountability for teachers who employ corporal punishment in classrooms. Despite corporal punishment being illegal since 1996, SACE continues to allow teachers off the hook when they are found guilty of corporal punishment. We need a stronger institutional response to enforce the corporal punishment ban so that classrooms are safe from violence.”

SACE has in the past sentenced very leniently and ineffectively when teachers are found guilty of corporal punishment, without addressing teachers’ violent behaviour or equipping them with the strategies to implement non-violent discipline in classrooms. SECTION27 and the Centre for Child Law believe that stronger sanctions for corporal punishment will contribute to breaking the cycle of violence which characterises many South African communities.

The European Union co-funds the “Enhancing accountability in health and education in South Africa” project, implemented by SECTION27 and the Centre for Child Law. 

[ENDS]

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