Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Possessed Girl Barred From School

A 12-year-old epileptic girl has been banished from her school after having a fit during a school camp - after which teachers and pupils believed she was "devil-possessed". At the three-day camp in the Magaliesberg, the girl screamed that she could see an "axe man" coming to kill two girls, it is alleged. Her eyes "rolled back", which frightened the other children, and she drew "evil" signs in the sand. Teachers at Jeppe Preparatory School prayed over her daughter, said her mother Rose, who was told she may not return to school until she was evaluated by psychiatrists. A week later doctors told Rose her daughter was epileptic and her symptoms were common in children about to have a fit. Despite the doctor's assertion that she was not a danger, the principal asked Rose to keep her child at home. The girl will have to repeat Grade 5. Rose recalled how excited her daughter was when she packed for the camp. But on Friday, October 23, a teacher asked her to attend a meeting on Monday, October 26 at 7am. At the meeting, Rose said she was told her child was "going crazy". Several incidents were cited: the "axe man"; stealing children's food; disturbing others at night; and going to the toilet "hundreds of times". "The principal said because of the 'sword killer incident', she should be removed from the school", and other parents would not let their children come to school because they were afraid of her daughter. "Are they comparing my child to the Krugersdorp sword killer, are they saying my daughter is psycho, she is going to kill somebody? Are they implying she is demonic, she is a mental case?" Rose asked. Rose was handed a letter to give to a psychiatrist. "Please assess... condition as she displays extreme behaviour, e.g. seeing visions, drawing in the sand and telling her peers she can foresee the future and saying they are going to be killed. She terrorises her peers and displays anger."We fear that she may become violent, and is placing learners and staff under tremendous fear. Some learners refuse to come to school, others are having panic attacks due to... extreme actions and behaviour. I feel that (child's name) is a danger to both learners and staff." The mother had a previous problems with her child and the school. "There had been bullying and she was in trouble all the time... In the third term, my daughter told me the principal told staff she is a mental case and needs to go to mad school," Rose said. The child had previously also seen the "axe man", but her mother, assuming it was the effects of Ritalin for her attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, took her off the medication. A teacher gave the child a Bible to take home. After the latest problems, the girl was taken for brain scans. Rose was told her child could go back to school after she was put on medication for epilepsy, but the principal said she must study at home. The psychiatrist, Dr Nkokone Tema, wrote to the school, asking them to take the girl back. "This letter serves to inform you that her difficulties could have been managed better by the school instead of ostracising her... She could use a lot of support from her class teacher. She doesn't pose any obvious danger and as such should be allowed back into school." But the school refused. This depressed Rose's daughter, who said she wanted to "commit suicide and felt like a monster and criminal". The child wrote a letter: "I am very sad and angry. I am missing my friends... I cannot do my schoolwork, I feel like what's the use anyway ... My dream is over, my vision to pass to grade 6." Rose sent her to live with her grandparents in KwaZulu-Natal. She asked the school for a transfer card, but it stated the new school would need a psychological report. Gauteng Department of Education spokesman Charles Phahlane said the principal made a recommendation to help the girl. "The decision was more in favour of the learner concerned."