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Grandma of girl whose hair was set alight in bullying incident blasts Athlone school

The grandmother of a high school pupil whose hair was set alight by a classmate, in a now viral video, says her granddaughter had not received adequate support from the school. Picture: Screengrab

The grandmother of a high school pupil whose hair was set alight by a classmate, in a now viral video, says her granddaughter had not received adequate support from the school. Picture: Screengrab

Published May 20, 2021

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Cape Town - The grandmother of a high school pupil whose hair was set alight by a classmate, in a now viral video, says her granddaughter had not received adequate support from the school.

The video - recorded on Monday - shows the Belgravia High School girl first having a drink poured over her head, and then her hair being set alight by a male classmate who then quickly puts out the flame.

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Another classmate filming the incident can be heard laughing. The teacher was not present during the incident.

The Hanover Park grandmother to the 14-year-old bullied learner, Muriel Minnaar, 69, said: “I'm very unhappy with the way the school handled the situation. He was sent home immediately, but she stayed at school. The victim is sitting in school traumatised, but the boy who did this is gone.

“I feel this was unfair towards her, the way they treated her, sitting in class with all this pain. This is the third time the school did nothing, and they didn't notify us.”

Minnaar said she kept the teen at home, as she was still very traumatised.

“There is no support from the school at all, at this moment. The school governing body will meet next Wednesday? Do you think that's fair. Why so long, almost a week after the incident?”

Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson Millicent Merton said the school immediately investigated and took action when the incident came to their attention.

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“The Grade 8 learner was suspended as a precautionary measure pending a disciplinary hearing. The school provided counselling and therapeutic support to the victim. The Representative Council of Learners (RCL) will embark on an anti-bullying campaign at the school,” Merton said.

Approached about the incident, a Belgravia High office administrator said the school would not comment and was “not at liberty” to provide any of the principal’s contact details.

According to Merton, a previous incident of verbal bullying was reported to the pupil’s teacher during the first term. The teacher had immediately addressed it and no further incidents were reported, Merton said.

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