Johannesburg:  A white South African music teacher is facing racism charges after allegedly taunting a young Hindu boy for the past three years over a red string worn by the student for religious reasons.

Sybil Jordaan, the music teacher, is facing racism charges from the Education authorities and the South African Human Rights Commission.

Jordaan will have to answer to claims that she made racist and religiously intolerant remarks to the pupil, now nine, who may not be named under South African law.

The boy's parents laid the charges after learning of the abuse that their child had reportedly suffered at the hands of the teacher only after he deliberately jammed his hand in a car door to avoid having to attend school.

The parents claimed that the principal of the school, who is Jordaan's husband, did not resolve the matter satisfactorily when the parents first complained to him in 2010 about the racial remarks made to the child.

But now the provincial education department has confirmed that notice has been served on Jordaan to respond within three days with a report on why she should not be suspended pending a disciplinary hearing.

The school's attorney, Stefan Wolmarans, told media that the school's policy stated that "religious decorations" could be worn by pupils, but needed to be covered up.

South African Hindu Maha Sabha president Ashwin Trikamjee said that matters like this were discriminatory and showed disrespect not only for the Hindu religion, but also for the South African constitution which safeguarded the religious rights of all its citizens.

A few years ago, a South African-Indian mother won a case after going to the Constitutional Court when her daughter's school refused to let her wear a nose ring for cultural reasons.

Married Hindu nurses also succeeded in another matter where their superiors disallowed them the right to wear the bindi (traditional dot to signify marriage) on their foreheads.


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