It is break-time at Zwavhuthu High School. Pupils are enjoying their lunch at different spots in the school yard: on the green cropped grass, near the pallets of stock bricks for the new construction, and at the stalls where a pupil can buy a kota or some fruit.
“Hey man – howzit, Jonasi!” shouts Bethuel, as he runs onto the lawn, where Jonasi is gorging himself on buttered bread with polony and cheese, and drinking Iron Brew.
“Hi, Bethu,” he answers with his mouth full.
“Sure,” Bethu sits down.
Jonasi holds out his lunchbox to Bethuel.
“Oh, thanks, but I’m full. I finished up mine just now.” He pats his stomach. “Have you seen any of the buddies?”
“Nope. I think they’ll arrive now-now.”
“I wanted us to have a quick smoke. I’ve real stuff today. I’ll show you.”
“I don’t know …”
“What’s up – why are you shaking your head?”
“When I got home yesterday, my dad said I had a nasty smell about me.” Jonasi closes his lunch box and puts it back in his schoolbag. “He said he was going to punish me one of these days.”
“He was serious, buddy. He even gave an example about his father who tied my dad’s older brother up in the pigsty; he had to stay with smelly pigs all day long.”
Bethuel smiles. “He will never do that!”
“How can you be sure? He said he would do it.”
“Do you have pigs at your home?”
“No. But he can find other terrible ways to punish me.”
Bethuel laughs loudly. “You know that what your grandfather did to your uncle is child abuse. Your father won’t do that to you.”
“He will. I swear he will.”
“No parent is allowed to abuse a child in any way these days,” Bethuel says. “The law forbids it. If he ever gets to lay his hand on you, you go straight to the police station to report him. They will come to arrest him and charge him for assault. He’ll have to face a jail sentence for that crime.”
“You mean …” Jonasi is shocked at the harshness in Bethuel’s voice. “Are you saying I should get my dad arrested?”
“If you think he is abusing you in any way,” Bethuel says with a smirk.
Jonasi frowns at his friend. What he says is cold-hearted. This is his own father. How could he do such a thing?
But then again, how could a father beat his own child? His parents love him and provide for him, they want him to succeed in life…
These conflicting thoughts swirl around his head.
Tell us: It is indeed true that since 2017 children in South Africa my not be beaten, even by their own parents. Do you think everyone obeys this? Is it a good law?