Pupil barred from school for wearing isiphandla (cultural bracelet)

July 26n 2020 Samkelo Mthembu ,9, who was kicked out of school for wearing isiphandla at Christian Life Private School in Buccleuch , Johannesburg. PHOTO: ANTONIO MUCHAVE/SOWETAN ------ pls blur the face even more

A Christian school has barred a Grade 2 pupil from attending classes because he is wearing isiphandla (cultural bracelet made from animal skin).

The nine-year-old pupil at Christian Life Private School in Buccleuch, Johannesburg, was prevented from entering the school on Thursday and was sent home. Then his parents were slapped with a letter dated July 23, which Sowetan has seen.

The letter, written by pastor and board chairperson Lindsey Lefebure, reads: "It has come to our attention that (name of the child withheld) has been wearing isiphandla.

"Christian Life Private School does not allow the wearing of this band at school. It brings with it a belief in the protection of the ancestors which is contradictory to our belief in the blood of Jesus and His victory on the cross of Calvary.

"As a Christian school, we stand very strongly against all forms of spiritual connections, charms, rituals and devices for protection other than of Jesus and the Holy Spirit of God."

The boy's mother said she was shocked and disappointed by the school's actions.

"We went to Durban to hold a cultural ceremony for my child to be accepted by his father's ancestors a week ago. He was given isiphandla, which no one is allowed to remove but should break off on its own.

"On Wednesday, he went to school (for the first time, wearing it) and one of the teachers said he should wear a long sleeve (shirt or jersey) to hide it.

"On Thursday, his father took him to school and he found the school principal, Virginia Naidoo, waiting at the gate. She gave him a letter of suspension without even calling us as parents to engage on the issues," the mother said.

The letter further stated: "While we understand that some people view this as purely cultural it is in fact intertwined very deeply with the spirit realm as in direct contradiction to scripture and what God has asked of His people.

– Sowetan

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