Education minister Sibusiso Bengu has decided to scrap corporal punishment in schools after the country's new Constitutional Court declared that whipping juvenile offenders was inconsistent with the constitution.
"It is my view that at this time, so close to the dawn of the 21st century, juvenile whipping is cruel, inhumane and degrading," said Constitutional Court judge Pius Langa.
All existing corporal punishment sentences will be set aside and alternative sentences imposed. Although the court ruling did not apply in schools, it was used by the education ministry to back a decision to abolish physical punishment.
Professor Bengu said provisions abolishing corporal punishment of pupils and students would be included in the Education Policy Bill which is currently being drafted.
Although caning, hitting and other forms of physical action against pupils is gradually disappearing from South African schools, it is still fairly common, particularly in traditionally-orientated institutions.