He may have been my dad’s good friend who would often pop into our home for a chat and a cup of tea.
But when it came to discipline, my higher primary school principal, Mr Matrose, had adopted zero tolerance against lateness, uncovered school books, untidiness and undone homework.
If I dared transgress on any of his set of rules, I would find myself being called to his office for punishment – three to four cane lashes, either on my right hand or buttocks.
For Mr Matrose, his friendship with my dad meant no special favours for me at school. I was only expected to excel.
He would often remind us that our parents worked hard and made sacrifices to ensure that we received education and we were being prepared to become leaders of tomorrow.
At home I would not make any mention of the school punishment, lest I receive another beating from my father who used his belt when annoyed by any form of ill-discipline among his children.
So, there was a time to play. And there was a time for school work.
Film actor Denzel Washington puts it so well: “Do what you have to do, in order to do what you want to do.”
Respect for the elders was instilled from home and if you were in a bus or a train, you had to stand up for someone older to occupy your seat.
With human rights enshrined in our constitution, Mr Matrose and my father would today find themselves being charged for violation of the law, as their form of punishment would be interpreted as assault.
During our time, punishment at school and at home for misbehaviour was normal – something which created a disciplined generation.
In this modern era of so much rights, teachers are faced with a tough challenge on how best to mould and develop the leaders of tomorrow.
School stabbings, attacks on teachers and the weekend killing of a man by youths, including school children, in Limpopo are matters of great concern. There were also reports of siblings that raped their great-grandmother.
What these illustrate is that something seriously wrong has crept into the minds of young people in South Africa – a total disregard of respect for the elderly and the rule of law.
The new culture and values have nothing to do with being poor or rich, residing in Sandton or in Alexandra. It is more about a good upbringing and a realisation early in life of what you want to ultimately achieve.
While school teachers are constrained by a maze of laws not to physically punish pupils, I think government should find a way of bringing back conscription of young boys into the army.
The army could play an important role in instilling discipline and preparing young people for a brighter future.
Coupled with this, drug addicts who are commonly found sleeping on street pavements or begging for money, should be taken to a designated farm for rehabilitation and development to become artisans.
Until we have all our hands on deck, the current scourge of lawlessness and hopelessness among youth, will continue.