Pupil arrested for car damage, verbal abuse

Principal Ruschda OShea fears for the safety of her learners.

Tafelsig High School principal Ruschda O’Shea fears for the safety of her pupils after a Grade 9 pupil lashed out at her when she gave him a letter asking for his parents to come see her.

The pupil allegedly damaged Ms O’Shea’s car and verbally abused her and a head of department just after 9am on Friday October 14.

Ms O’Shea told the Plainsman that last Friday the pupil refused to be searched by the City of Cape Town’s law enforcement department.

“He gave the officer attitude and then they reported the incident. Then, half an hour later, he kicked a Grade 8 pupil. The child was crying because he was hurt,” she said.

Ms O’Shea said she then handed a letter to the pupil, which states that his parents are needed at the school.

“When I gave him the letter, he refused to take it, and was becoming aggressive. I then gave the letter to the HOD, but he then threw it back to the teacher. He then started swearing in the foyer until he was outside, still in the school grounds. The boy banged and kicked my car and left the school,” she said.

Ms O’Shea said in less than an hour, he returned to the school without his school clothes and approached her in the administration area.

“At this point I was shocked, because as I turned around, he was in front of me. As he lift his hand towards me, the staff pulled him back, so he did not touch me. He then went outside and damaged my car even more. He continued to swear and threatened me, he said: ‘You must leave the school, I know your route home, I will bring people for you’. I then went inside to calm myself down,” she said.

Ms O’Shea said the incident has affected her psychologically but she is remaining strong.

“Incidents of this nature drain me. I cannot believe that he had the audacity to come back to the school and do the things he did. I am not only concerned about myself, but my pupils,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) encourages parents to work with schools, the department and partners, who provide programmes addressing behavioural problems.

Paddy Attwell, WCED director of communication, said the joining of hands should be seen as a “whole of society” approach to dealing with these issues.

He said the school reported to its district office that the pupil had assaulted another pupil, verbally abused the principal and a head of department, and damaged the principal’s car.

“The governing body has scheduled a disciplinary hearing,” he said.

Mr Attwell said the school enrolled the pupil in a youth development programme provided by their Safe Schools division and a programme provided by the City of Cape Town but the pupil refused to attend.

He said the school works with various agencies that deal with bullying, abuse and violence, including Peace Buddies, Quaker Peace, Childline, the YMCA, counsellors, and the WCED.

Mitchell’s Plain police are investigating charges relating to intimidation, malicious damage to property and crimen injuria.

The pupil, 17, was arrested and warned to appear in Mitchell’s Plain Magistrate’s Court on Friday October 21.