Hamba kahle, Paballo Seane. Rest in Peace.

Paballo Seane, 19, was buried recently: “Paballo Seane, 19, a Grade 12 pupil at Cefups Academy, which is on a farm 11km outside Nelspruit, died in hospital over a week ago after allegedly being sjambokked by a teacher. She was buried on Saturday in her home town, Bloemfontein, in the Free State.”

Since Paballo Seane died, or was killed, former students of the Cefups Academy have reported their memories of sjamboks as a fairly regular “pedagogical tool.” Parents are threatening to take their children out of the school, and Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza has said if corporal punishment was used, the academy will be closed.

Image: Reinart Toerien; Eye Witness News

Image: Reinart Toerien; Eye Witness News

Will it be closed?

This is not the first time Cefups Academy has run into precisely this trouble. In 1999, Simon Mkhatshwa, the school’s founder, was convicted for sjambokking a teacher.

South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Higher Education Mduduzi Manana, a graduate of Cefups Academy, describes Simon Mkhatshwa as a “typical traditional man who believed that what must happen at school was teaching and learning and nothing else”.

Is the sjambok teaching, learning, or nothing else?

The violence done to Paballo Seane in school by a staff member is no anomaly, neither in South Africa nor around the world.

The gender dynamic of staff violence has yet to be studied conclusively. What is known is that the experience is traumatic, hurts deeply and lasts forever. Trauma and violence have become the curriculum.

Last week, Kathleen Dey urged people not to use Women’s Month as an alibi for hiding from precisely violence against women. Think of Paballo Seane dying under the lash of a sjambok. Think of the girls across South Africa who suffer violence in the one place that is meant to help precisely girls advance in this world and the next: school. Remember Paballo Seane and all the girls, and then do something.

Dan Moshenberg

Dan Moshenberg writes at Women In and Beyond the Global and at Africa Is a Country, and is Director of the Women’s Studies Program at The George Washington University in Washington, DC.

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About rapecrisisblog

We have a vision of a South Africa in which rape survivors suffer no secondary trauma, and are supported throughout their interaction with the Criminal Justice System (CJS). Our mission is to promote an end to violence against women, specifically rape, and to assist women to achieve their right to live free from violence. Rape Crisis Cape Town seeks to achieve its mission through counselling and training of women, thereby reducing the trauma experienced by rape survivors, and encouraging reporting of rape and the conviction of rapists.

5 thoughts on “Hamba kahle, Paballo Seane. Rest in Peace.

  1. Indeed, justice must act and prevail, and one hopes it looks beyond this individual case and at the entire situation.

    I hope someone writes a piece some time … and soon! … on the Rape Crisis Cape Town peer education programme. It’s an important model.

    As to who would pay … the State. What exactly does that mean? It means more people — and especially those individuals, groups and communities committed to the work of Rape Crisis and other similar groups — have to learn to read and engage with provincial and State budgets, and to advocate. The money is there. What is lacking is a proper commitment.

  2. Pingback: Trauma and violence have become the global school curriculum

  3. Yes, under-resourced schools in South Africa experience high rates of drug abuse, violence and sexual violence and peer education has become a popular means of changing attitudes and behaviours in schools. Our schools could certainly benefit from an effective peer education model that could mitigate some of these challenges and could be replicated in other schools across the Western Cape – but who would pay for it…?

  4. This sounds like (terrible) science-fiction to me. I work in a high-school in Cape Town where I get parents calling me on my cell if they consider I make too many tests, or if they want a special treatment : “couldn’t s/he have more time for her assignment ? it’s her father birthday and we’re going away for the week end”. The discrepancies between my students’ situation and this one are shocking. But surely, being a teacher doesn’t excuse anything. A human being killed another one. Justice must act.

  5. The levels of violence in South Africa’s schools, particularly those schools in communities that lack access to services, to justice, to education, to jobs and to power, are much higher than is generally supposed. Drug and alcohol abuse, gang violence and the abuse of power in the classroom are rife in Western Cape schools as well. This year for the first time Rape Crisis found that teenagers dropped out of our peer education programme at a school in Khayelitsha because of drug addiction. Our peer education programme is designed to create a safe space where adolescents can explore issues of power and helplessness, of gender relationships and violence against women. The passion and commitment they bring to these conversations is inspiring. it leads them on to take action. One action is to build a safety plan for their school in collaboration with learners, teachers and parents. These children can be powerful agents of change. They can create a school environment that does not allow another Paballo Seane.

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