Postal address
Box 1170 
Physical address
111 Commissioner Str. 


Date : 25 May1999

CIRCULAR 65/1999

To: All Chief Directors and Directors at Head, Regional and District Offices
Principals of all schools
Governing Bodies of all schools
Trade Unions and Teacher organisations


The prohibition of corporal punishment

ENQUIRIES: All enquiries related to this circular should be directed to the relevant District Director, and at head office to Lawrence Tsipane (011) 355 0477

This Circular is available in English, IsiZulu, Sepedi and Afrikaans
Le sekhula iyatholakala nge-English, isiZulu, iSepedi nange-Afrikaans
Sekulara ye e hwetsega ka maleme a English, Sizulu, sepedi le Afrikaans
Hierdie omsendminute is beskikbaar in Engels, Zulu, Sepedi en Afrikaans.

The following is the Gauteng Department of Education policy on corporal punishment.

This policy is applicable to all public and independent schools in the province of Gauteng.


The Bill of Rights (Chapter 2) in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act No. 108 of 1996, enshrines the rights of everyone to be free from all forms of violence, from either public or private source; not to be tortured in any way and not to be treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman and degrading way. These rights are also in line with the spirit of Curriculum 2005. The success of Outcomes Based Education does not depend on the use of forced learning through corporal punishment but on promoting self- and mutual respect, self-motivation, self-discipline and independent thinking. Curriculum 2005 will therefore attempt to give practical meaning to the Bill of Rights as enshrined by the Constitution. The school, as the agent of the government of the day, must therefore protect, promote and fulfil the rights as outlined in the Bill of Rights.

Towards encouraging a new culture

Because Curriculum 2005 does not rely on the use of corporal punishment as a method of ensuring compliance, and also recognising that the use of corporal punishment is unconstitutional and illegal, it is therefore the responsibility of all schools to ensure that a culture that is congruent with the Constitution of the country is inculcated in all schools.

The prohibition of corporal punishment is not intended to encourage ill discipline or disorder in school. Instead, this is intended to encourage and inculcate a culture of non-violence; of resolving conflict through dialogue and discussion; of instilling a sense of responsibility; self-discipline and self-motivation amongst learners at the school. It is believed that this move will go some way in preparing our learners to be tomorrow’s parents who will embrace the principles of non-violence, non-racialism, and democracy, and thereby give practical meaning to the progressive constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

What is corporal punishment?

Section 10 (1) of the South African Schools Act, (1996), states:

"No person may administer corporal punishment at a school to a learner."

Corporal punishment in this context is therefore not just about caning but also refers to an assault on a person in any manner whatsoever. It also refers to violent shaking, torture, kicking, pinching, pulling of ears, poking with a finger, using a stick / cane / belt or any object designed to threaten learners, or any other physical act which may cause discomfort to the learner.

Consequences of administering corporal punishment

Section 10 (2) of the South African Schools’ Act (SASA) states:

"Any person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a sentence which could be imposed for assault."

Educational personnel must take note that the institution of criminal proceedings against him/her does not prevent the Department from instituting additional disciplinary proceedings against him/her in terms of the Employment of Educators’ Act (1998) and other relevant Acts.

Steps that may be taken in the event of corporal punishment being administered to a learner

A learner who is subjected to corporal punishment has recourse to either the principal, his / her parents and / or the Child Protection Unit of the South African Police Services (SAPS). Learners are encouraged to pursue any or all three courses of action.

Educational personnel who are assaulted by learners could lay a criminal charge against such a learner and are also encouraged to take any of the three courses of action stipulated above.

Alternatives to corporal punishment

According to the South African Schools Act, No 840 ( 1996), it is the responsibility of the School Governing Body to involve all stakeholders at the school to formulate and adopt a Code of Conduct for the school. The purpose of the code of conduct is, among other things, to provide alternative forms of punishment and to promote positive discipline self-discipline and exemplary conduct; and thereby provide schools with progressive ways of instilling discipline without using corporal punishment or inflicting pain on learners.

The role of the department

The Gauteng Department of Education has a constitutional obligation to ensure that the South African Schools Act (1996) and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act No. 108 of 1996, is implemented in all its schools.

The Head of the Department therefore delegates to the District Directors the monitoring function of ensuring that corporal punishment is not practiced in any of its schools. The District Directors will also ensure that all stakeholders in schools are made aware of this position. This may involve organizing workshops to sensitize educational personnel on issues related to discipline, disciplinary measures and the code of conduct.


Kindly ensure that the contents of this circular is brought to the attention of all educators and learners.


Original document signed by T.M.J. MASEKO

SUPERINTENDENT-GENERAL, Gauteng Department of Education