Cry My Beloved Country

Macfarlane Moleli
By Macfarlane Moleli | Follow @macmoleli
Macfarlane Moleli has over 14 years’ experience as a journalist in the media and entertainment industry. Recently he worked at Kaya FM, eNCA and SABC 3. Well-versed in in-depth interviews on current affairs, contentious issues in politics, business, sports and environmental issues, Macfarlane now brings his presentin [...] See full profile

It takes a lot to make me cry, and this past week it has happened twice in a row. The hardest part is for the people that are around you when you start crying, because they really don’t know what to do. Especially when you are 1,82 metres tall and weigh about 95 kilograms.  It’s unfortunate that I now have to explain what has caused my tears to flow and my body to shake uncontrollably due to my sobbing. Over the past couple of days I have had to cover a story on corporal punishment. Many of you may have seen the horrific videos which went viral showing teachers physically abusing children at school.

Cry

These videos, which sent shockwaves across different social media platforms, led us to ask a couple of questions: why are teachers still using corporal punishment? Why are teachers that practice corporal punishment still allowed to teach? And, finally, is the Department of Education doing enough to protect learners that are being physically abused?

There is nothing more dehumanising than standing in front of your peers and being beaten into submission by a teacher. Unfortunately, we come from a generation where it was okay to be caned by a teacher if you had misbehaved in class. The saddest part about it is we grew up thinking that it was the best form of discipline for unruly learners. In our time, the laws of the country allowed for teachers to mete out any punishment which they deemed fit to discipline learners.

Was it right? Well, my answer is no, because we now have adults that have carried on that tradition, and we find ourselves in a society which has become numb to the violence we see every day. Yes, we cannot blame the senseless crimes that we see every day on corporal punishment. However it does make one want to ask the question: could it be as a result of the perpetuation of these beatings that we find ourselves with so much abuse happening in our society?

We are not discounting discipline, nor are we saying that children should not be scolded, but a line should be drawn between cruelty and correction. Should a teacher be allowed to beat a child to a point where they lose the use of their hand? Does it mean that its right to slap a mentally challenged child in front of other learners on a bus, then mercilessly throw them into the street and leave them crying for help? Is it right for a teacher to spit on a child and then beat them?

These are unfortunately the stories that have made headlines, but how many more still go unreported? We also need to ask ourselves, as fellow South Africans, about the state of our psyche. Are we an inherently violent people due to the history of our country? How long until we realise that it can no longer carry on in this manner as more and more cases arise of spousal abuse, sexual abuse and violent crimes.

I do cry for my beloved country. But even though it may all seem helpless, there are still pockets of humanity left in some people who are fighting this scourge of violence against women, children and the elderly.