Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Basic Education Chairperson Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, has expressed concern at a bullying incident, where a Grade 8 learner at a Cape Town school was caught on camera setting alight the hair of a fellow learner.
The incident took place at Belgravia High School in Athlone, Cape Town.
The video, which circulated on social media, showed a girl sitting in class and taunted by a boy who poured a liquid on her head and set her hair alight while laughing can be heard in the background. In the video, the teacher appears to have stepped out of the class.
Mbinqo-Gigaba said all learners should be familiar with the anti-bullying policies and the consequences thereof if they do not adhere to them.
“The bullying behaviour of this boy has also put the life of this learner, as well as that of other learners in danger by setting the girl’s hair alight.
“Furthermore, we have last month experienced the horrific effects of bullying when a Limpopo learner committed suicide after videos of her being smacked around by fellow Grade 10 girls were shared on social media. Policies should be enforced. If there are still schools operating without a code of conduct or an anti-bullying policy, they should urgently address this matter,” the chairperson said in a statement on Friday.
Mbinqo-Gigaba, the Western Cape Education Department has confirmed that the learner was suspended after the video became public.
She also urged education authorities across the country to ensure that those involved in bullying are made to face the consequences of their actions.
“Education is a societal issue [and] therefore, the responsibility for the safety of learners does not just lie with the education authorities, but with everyone. I want to urge parents and caregivers to also take up this responsibility to make learners aware of bullying and its devastating consequences,” Mbinqo-Gigaba.
She said the committee is planning an oversight visit to schools in the province in the near future.