Second bullying incident at school

The boy at the centre of a bullying row at Fairbairn College was previously accused of bullying a Grade 9 pupil at the school, earlier this year (“Assault case opened after school brawl” , Northern News, February 10).

This was confirmed by a reliable source who spoke to Northern News on condition of anonymity.

This is the second time this year that Fairbairn College has been in the spotlight for bullying.

The 14-year old *Laeeq was attacked after he refused to pay his bully R50 protection money.

The mother of the victim, *Shamiema has laid assault charges against the 19-year-old matric pupil.

The fight which broke out at the school on Friday August 19, was recorded on a cellphone and went viral on social media after Shamiema posted it to Facebook.

According to Shamiema the principal of the school, Bernie Marchand, had told her that the money the boy was looking for, was money he wanted for “getuiging” her son. However, Shamiema said Laeeq isn’t aware of any talk of money.

“Getuiging”, a slang word used in schools, means “to back up” or “to have someone’s back”.

The 24-second video clip which looks like it was shot on school grounds, shows Laeeq lying curled up on the floor, while a group of people in school uniform hit and kick him. Just before the video ends, someone in a white shirt, who appears to be a teacher, breaks up the fight.

Shamiema said on the Tuesday before the fight she had seen a message on Laeeq’s phone about the R50. “The first thing that came to my mind was either drug or protection money,” said Shamiema.

She said when she asked Laeeq, he told her he didn’t know what money the boy was talking about. There is still no clarity around why the matric pupil wanted the money.

Shamiema said Laeeq told her he had heard rumours that the boy wanted to hit him, but when Laeeq asked the boy about the rumours, he said they were not true.

Shamiema claimed the matric pupil’s younger brother had threatened her son, but Laeeq had ignored him. Later, as Laeeq left one classroom to go to another, the matric pupil and his younger brother had apparently followed him, chanting, “Fight, fight, fight.”

A girl walking with Laeeq had then shouted at him to watch out as the matric pupil’s brother allegedly threw a punch. Laeeq ducked, but the older brother is said to have attacked him.

“After the boy’s brother missed the hit, he jumped in and started beating Laeeq,” said Shamiema.

She said they hit and kicked her son in his face and all over his body, leaving him with bruises.

“I literally cried when I spoke to the principal. We think we are sending our children to good schools, and pay high fees to give them the best, but look what happens. It is unacceptable,” said Shamiema.

Shamiema filled out a J88 form, detailing her son’s injuries, and opened a case at Goodwood police station, following the incident.

Captain Waynne Theunis, the spokesman at Goodwood police station, confirmed that a case of assault is being investigated, adding that they are actively involved at schools in the area where they run educational programmes.

Northern News asked Shamiema about the incident that happened earlier this year, but she denied her son had been involved, arguing that no case had been opened against him. She said while her son had been present when the fight took place, her son hadn’t hit anyone.

Asked for his input on this, Captain Theunis confirmed that a case of assault, involving “two or three” 14-year-old boys from Fairbairn College, had been opened in January this year, but said he was not able to provide further details because the children involved were minors.

The Metro North Education District office of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) is investigating the case after it was reported to the department late on the afternoon of Tuesday August 23.

Jessica Shelver, the spokeswoman for Education MEC Debbie Schäfer, said the WCED viewed bullying in a very serious light.

She said schools dealt with bullying in terms of their own codes of conduct, but were required to support victims and find ways to change bullies’ behaviour.

“Our districts provide training and support as part of broader support on disciplinary issues. Psychologists and social workers were among the professional staff available at district level to help schools tackle bullying,” said Ms Shelver.

“Bullying reflects deeper personal problems that we have to address appropriately. These include an inability to form positive relationships. If we don’t address these problems properly, then we can expect other problems to surface, including various forms of anti-social behaviour.”

In a letter sent via email, Mr Marchand said the school was investigating a fight involving three pupils on Friday August 19.

Mr Marchand said that in cases of serious misconduct, the governing body could suspend pupils for seven days as a precautionary measure. He confirmed that the two boys had been suspended.

Mr Marchand said the governing body would now conduct disciplinary proceedings within the prescribed time period.

* Names have been changed to protect the identity of the minor.