Girl's Hair Set Alight in Cape Town School Bullying Incident Fire
Girl's Hair Set Alight in Cape Town School Bullying Incident. Photo: Pixabay

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Basic Education has expressed concern at yet another bullying incident in South Africa which was filmed and has gone viral. In this incident, a male Grade 8 learner at a Cape Town school was caught on camera setting alight the hair of a female learner in his class.

The incident took place at Belgravia High School in Athlone, Cape Town, and appears to have happened whilst the teacher had stepped out of the class.

The video shows a girl sitting in class, taunted by a boy (wearing a brown and white beanie) who pours a liquid from a bottle (believed to be an energy drink) on her head. He then sets her hair on fire with a lighter, which he borrows from a classmate. He bursts out laughing and then quickly douses the flames with his hand… while others in the class can be heard laughing in the background.

'Concern' After Girl's Hair Set Alight in Cape Town School Bullying Incident
‘Concern’ After Girl’s Hair Set Alight in Cape Town School Bullying Incident. Screenshot from the video which went viral.

In April, a young school girl, Lufuno Mavhunga, died from suicide after being filmed being bullied at her school in Limpopo, where most of the children surrounding the bullying incident were also heard laughing.

Committee Chairperson Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba said all learners should be familiar with the anti-bullying policies and the consequences thereof if they do not adhere to them.

“The bullying behaviour of this boy has also put the life of this learner, as well as that of other learners in danger by setting the girl’s hair alight.

“Furthermore, we have last month experienced the horrific effects of bullying when a Limpopo learner committed suicide after videos of her being smacked around by fellow Grade 10 girls were shared on social media.

“Policies should be enforced. If there are still schools operating without a code of conduct or an anti-bullying policy, they should urgently address this matter,” the chairperson said in a statement on Friday.

The Western Cape Education Department has confirmed that the bullying learner was suspended after the video became public.

Mbinqo-Gigaba also urged education authorities across the country to ensure that those involved in bullying are made to face the consequences of their actions.

“Education is a societal issue [and] therefore, the responsibility for the safety of learners does not just lie with the education authorities, but with everyone. I want to urge parents and caregivers to also take up this responsibility to make learners aware of bullying and its devastating consequences,” Mbinqo-Gigaba said.

She said the committee is planning an oversight visit to schools in the province in the near future. –