A deputy principal from a school near Brits has been arrested and served with a precautionary suspension letter after allegedly locking four boys in a safe for bunking classes.

According to the North West department of education, the deputy principal of the Madiba-a-Tolwana Secondary School near Jericho locked the four learners in a safe in his office at 14:00 on Wednesday, 3 March, as punishment after they did not attend classes.

Elias Malindi, spokesperson for the department said panicked parents went to a local police station just after 16:00 to report their children missing after they had not returned home from school.

“Upon hearing from other learners, it turned out the four were locked up by the deputy principal in the strong room in his office as means of ‘punishment’ for bunking classes at around 14:00,” Malindi said.

According to Malindi the deputy principal could not be found and the door of the safe was finally ground open at around 23:00 to release the learners.

The MEC for education in North West, Mmaphefo Matsemela described the incident as “grossly harsh and inhumane punishment”. “ I strongly condemn with contempt the harsh and inhumane punishment by the deputy principal that is meted against our learners. Punishment ought to be corrective rather than punitive and we deem this as the latter in the department. Already we have a team investigating the matter and continuous counselling is being granted to the learners,” Matsemela said.

Police arrested the deputy principal on a charge of kidnapping. “He was also served with a precautionary suspension letter pending a formal investigation,” Malindi said.

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