Education dept to probe arrest of Parktown schoolboys

The Gauteng department of education will investigate the circumstances surrounding the arrests of 11 boys accused of assaulting some grade 11 pupils in an initiation ceremony.

“We are aware of the fact that the police were at the school and we are investigating the circumstances under which the boys and the staff members were taken from the school,” spokesperson Nanagolo Leopeng said.

“We are expecting a report from the district.”

This came after 11 matric boys from Parktown Boys’ High School were arrested at the school on Tuesday following the alleged assault of 14 grade 11 pupils at the school’s boarding house on February 2.

The arrested boys, who are all 17 and 18 years old, were released on warning on Tuesday, and will appear in the Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

Captain Bheki Mavundla said the boys were arrested and formally charged with assault on Tuesday afternoon.

“The arrests were made after a decision was taken by the Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court that the boys be formally charged,” said Mavundla.

Mavundla said the decision to arrest them was made after a parent of one of the boys, allegedly assaulted in the initiation ceremony, laid charges of assault against the 11 matrics.

“The action of the boys [the matrics] falls into the culture of the school, and it was expected that it may happen,” said Mavundla.

He said no other arrests were expected as the police “do not want to aggravate the situation”.

He said no teachers would be arrested “at the moment”.

“That decision [on whether any teachers will be arrested] will be taken by the court as it has handled all the decisions on this matter,” he said.

The school headmaster, Tom Clarke, was not immediately available for comment.

A statement on the school’s website said 12 matric boys and 14 grade 11 boys “bunked out” of the boarding house at midnight for the purpose of initiation on Monday February 2.

“This unauthorised practice was intended as a boarding house exercise to incorporate the grade 11s as seniors of the house,” read the message by Clarke.

“When the incident was first reported on Monday February 9 by a parent, the boarding house master was immediately instructed to conduct an investigation, which resulted in all grade 12 boys admitting to being guilty.

“They were suspended from the boarding house with immediate effect and given a letter for their parents that they would have to attend a disciplinary hearing on February 13.”

Clarke’s statement said the disciplinary committee was not aware of the “extremely violent nature” of the incident.

The statement said: “All initiations involving secrecy or violent abuse are banned.
However, induction and orientation are allowed and encouraged as a system of mentorship.”—Sapa

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