Four Grade 10 pupils in the Free State are under fire for allegedly burning fellow pupils on their bodies with hot irons and using sharp objects on them as an initiation ritual to welcome them to school.
The Free State Department of Education expressed disgust over a social media post that depicted a gruesome incident at Christian de Wet Combined School where a Grade 8 schoolboy was bullied.
In pictures posted on social media, freshly burned marks can be seen on the boy’s arm. Thirteen other schoolboys have similar burn marks, which were allegedly meted out to them last week.
It is alleged that the perpetrators who performed the “misdemeanours and criminality” were four Grade 10 pupils. It is also alleged that this is part of the initiation practice given to the boys who have been part of the school at hostels.
Junior pupils are being bullied, intimidated, and forcefully burned with the objects on their arms. And those who resisted or defied the order are threatened with more severe punishment.
This included using a hot iron on their chests.
The provincial MEC for Education, Makalo Mohale, slammed the actions and said it must not be tolerated at schools.
“This is barbaric, atavistic, and must stop,” Mohale said.
According to the department, the School Governing Board (SGB) and management were not aware of the practices, but the matter has been handled accordingly.
The matter was reported to the school authorities and department by members of the Learner Representative Council (LRC).
However, the department said the matter has since been reported to the police for investigation.
It said that the four pupils who were involved in the incident would face disciplinary action for bullying and physically harming other pupils.
“Parents of the 13 boys have been informed about this incident,” it said.
It also mentioned that psychosocial support services will be provided to 13 affected pupils.