- Maritzburg College suspended a number of prefects after allegations they urinated in a long jump pit before junior pupils crawled through it.
- It is claimed this was part of an initiation ritual, but the school disputes this, saying it was an isolated incident during an annual orientation camp.
- The boys have been suspended, pending a formal disciplinary hearing.
Maritzburg College in KwaZulu-Natal has suspended a few of its prefects on charges that they urinated in a long-jump pit before Grade 8s crawled through it.
News24 has learnt that nine prefects were suspended because of the incident, allegedly part of an initiation ritual at an annual school-run orientation camp last week.
The school’s governing body confirmed pupils have been suspended, pending a formal disciplinary hearing.
School management became aware of the incident when some Grade 8s complained of developing a skin rash, and there were allegations that prefects urinated into the long jump pit.
The school did not confirm the number of pupils suspended, but said: “The orientation camp includes various activities and an obstacle course, aimed at fostering a spirit of togetherness and team building with the new boys joining the school. One of the activities involves boys crawling through a waterlogged long jump pit.
“The behaviour which led to the suspensions involved the senior learners urinating in the long jump pit a number of hours before the Grade 8s were required to crawl through the pit.”
The statement continued: “We are in the process of investigating. Whilst this is taking place, these learners have been suspended from school, pending a formal disciplinary hearing… Until this disciplinary hearing has been concluded, we cannot predict what measures will be taken and what disciplinary outcomes will result.”
The school said it had notified the Department of Education.
The KwaZulu-Natal school is semi-private, and allows pupils to live on campus as boarders.
A source told News24 that the orientation camp is known informally as “Vietnam”, and includes tours of the school and team building activities.
They claimed an urgent meeting was held on Saturday after the allegations emerged. “Their parents came and fetched them from the school immediately.”
They claimed initiation rituals were part of the tradition at the orientation camps, but had never heard of something as serious as this.
“We are appalled with this behaviour. It is inhumane. No one can condone a boy as young as 13 having to crawl through urine,” one staffer said, who also questioned what activity required the Grade 8s to crawl through the long jump pit in the first place.
Maritzburg College said in its statement to News24 that it was against any form of initiation, but conceded that senior boys had engaged in “unexpected and unacceptable” behaviour at past camps.
“Furthermore, the school staff was unaware of this (urinating) conduct until after the completion of the orientation camp.
“The governing body and staff of Maritzburg College are deeply upset about these revelations, which are contrary to the entire spirit of both the orientation camp itself and the school.
“Maritzburg College has a proud heritage and is committed to providing a sound learning environment for all of our learners. As such, we are not only committed to fully investigating this incident, but also to taking the necessary disciplinary steps.”We are confident that those who were directly involved, as well as all other learners at our school, will learn an important life lesson from this inappropriate behaviour.”