South Africa teachers 'racially abused pupils'

Learners at Intshisekelo High School in Durban
Image caption This is the second such incident in a year in Bloemfontein

South Africa's Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has found a public school guilty of hate speech towards black and mixed-race pupils.

Children at the school alleged staff called them racist names, such as baboons and monkeys.

After an 18-month investigation, staff and the head teacher were found to have exposed pupils to dehumanising and racist treatment.

Dr Viljoen Combined School told the BBC it would not "comment at this stage".

It said it had not seen the report and would refer the matter to the its governing body.

The Free State Department of Education, responsible for the school, says it will study the report and would hold its own investigation before taking any potential disciplinary action.

The SAHRC is an independent body set up after the end of white-minority rule in 1994 to investigate allegations of human rights abuses and hold public institutions to account.

Frank and open discussion

Pupils at the school in Bloemfontein said teachers told them to go back to the black schools in the townships because their parents could not afford to pay school fees, and that they would never succeed in life and would end up like their parents who work in chain stores.

Such reports raise uncomfortable questions about transformation in Nelson Mandela's rainbow nation, says the BBC's Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg.

Many have called for a frank and open discussion about why racism and inequality still exist, our correspondent says.

The commission made various recommendations for the school and the Free State education department.

Both institutions should develop procedures for countering racism.

The school's governing body should establish policies and guidelines to counter racism and submit them to the SAHRC for review within the next 12 months.

The school and department should increase teachers' and pupils' understanding of racism.

This is the second such incident in Bloemfontein in the past year.

Last year, the Welgehof Primary School was also the focus of a racist incident in which a teacher allegedly referred to learners as baboons. The matter is being dealt with internally by the Free State Education Department.

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