Tortured pupil claims R2.5m

Jeff Wicks, The Witness

Pietermaritzburg - A 14-year-old former Voortrekker High School pupil who was allegedly ritualistically tortured by prefects is demanding a multimillion-rand settlement.

Attorneys acting for the boy’s family have issued letters of demand calling for damages amounting to over R2.5m.

The family’s legal “hit list” includes Education MEC Peggy Nkonyeni, Voortrekker High School and four matric boys who admitted to being part of a sadistic initiation ritual two months ago.

Third-degree burns

The former pupil, who was removed from the school when his parents found evidence of third-degree burns from a steam iron on his body, lifted the lid on the school’s long-standing initiation practice.

The teen’s traumatic ordeal peaked when he was branded with the iron, but was preceded by a three-month spate of physical and emotional abuse, the victim and his mother charge.

The school has remained tight-lipped since evidence of the abuse came to light, and has also insisted that its “investigation” would not be influenced by the police or the KwaZulu-Natal department of education.

The education department’s probe into allegations of a staff cover-up and criminal charges against the boys remain on track, and could see the four matric pupils facing further action.

The mother, her son and the prefects cannot be named because of the sexual nature of some of the allegations.

Six letters of demand, of which The Witness has copies, were sent last week.

They give the education MEC, Voortrekker High School principal Jan Nel and the four pupils 14 days to each pay an amount of R425 000.


The calculation of damages is broken down as follows:

- Travelling expenses for attending the school’s disciplinary hearing amounting to R8 000;

- Medical expenses incurred by the injured boy amounting to R2 000;

- Future medical expenses to be incurred by the boy amounting to R15 000;

- Pain and suffering amounting to R200 000; and

- Contumelia (humiliation) amounting to R200 000.

If they fail to pay up, further legal action has been threatened.

“Our instructions are to demand from you... payment of the sum of R425 000 within 14 days from date hereof, failing which we are instructed to institute legal proceedings against you,” the letters read.

The deadline for the settlement has since lapsed, and the boy’s mother said they would pursue further legal action.


Twelve matric boys are understood to have admitted to taking part in the practice, although the contents of their confessions are not known to The Witness.

The offending pupils escaped with light penalties. They were merely removed from the school’s boarding establishment and barred from sports and attending their matric farewell.

Voortrekker High School governing body spokesperson Marius du Plessis said he was unaware of the letter. “We have not received a summons yet, and cannot comment. We will seek legal advice only if and when we receive formal documentation,” he said.

Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi could not be reached for comment.

- The Witness
SunshinyDay 2014-09-03 11:57:13 AM
They are never going to get that money, chance takers.
Herman 2014-09-03 12:04:17 PM
Sounds like a get rich quick scheme
BarakYeshua ForPeace 2014-09-03 12:05:47 PM
I don't know why the teachers and principal's of all schools don't take a hard stand, by calling an assembly and warning all pupils that any forms of initiation will be met with immediate expulsion of the ring-leaders as well as criminal charges. Parents can be informed as well, so they explain the consequences to their children and to themselves in terms of legal costs from litigation, and no-one can claim they did not know". Who can condone physical and sexual abuse of vunerable pupils by sadists? It is high time that South Africa matures into a society that exercises discipline and is accountable thru an aggressive litigation process to protect civil rights like they do in the USA and Europe.
Andre James 2014-09-03 12:07:01 PM
Every boys boarding school has initiation rituals. I was stripped naked and made to run the quad whilst being whipped. Its part of the acceptance process. This boy needs to grow a pair and man up
BrandonF 2014-09-03 12:16:38 PM
I have not problem with initiations. . . but branding someone with an iron is taking things a little far.
Bonnie Cape 2014-09-03 12:24:44 PM
Initiation?! Iron burns and rites of a sexual nature?! What ever happened to taking a potato to school and having to drag it everywhere you go for 3 months?
Richard George Galpin 2014-09-03 12:25:15 PM
MATRIC OF 1948 in KZN!!! Sure we were initiated in 1944 when I started at high school BUT nothing as sadistic and sexually orientated as this poor guy had to suffer in this day and age. Lets see what the courts have to say.
mlindos 2014-09-03 12:34:33 PM
bet his lawyer aint gonna tell him that trying to prove how he incurred all these costs (lawyers, psychologists, psychiatrists, specialists, travel agents, doctors etc) will cost him more than what can ever recover from the claim... just like Roux never told Oscar it will be easier and cheaper to just plead guilty
Karen Holman 2014-09-03 12:37:27 PM
This is NOT America. R25,000 actual cost and they want to sue for R2.5m??? This is nothing more than a money making scheme! Charge the guilty people with abuse and let justice prevail but the whole "pain, suffering and humiliation" is ridiculous. How does one let initiation go on for three months without doing anything?
Schalk Johannes Brand 2014-09-03 12:39:57 PM
Must say tradition did me good, but must be facilitated