Corporal punishment is a widespread phenomenon in South African schools in spite of legislation prohibiting spanking of learners. Section 10 of the South African Schools Act No 84 of 1996 states that No person may administer corporal punishment at a school to a learner. The legal consequences for an educator administering corporal punishment could result in dismissal. However, empirical evidence indicates that seven in every ten primary school learners and one in every two secondary school learners still receive corporal punishment from educators. Hence, the purpose of the study is to understand and explain corporal punishment from educators’ perceptions. Six educators from three schools were interviewed using a qualitative approach. Participant educators are not convinced that the use of corporal punishment is illegal and a criminal offence. The findings of the study show that these frustrated educators believe that corporal punishment is effective to maintain discipline in classes with a high educator-learner ratio. Furthermore, the participant educators are convinced that alternatives to corporal punishment are ineffective in comparison with the positive effect of corporal punishment on instruction and learning. The ineffectiveness of alternatives to corporal punishment is exacerbated by the poor support provided by the Department of Education in implementing these measures. The study concluded that the implementation of the abolishment of corporal punishment is a tug-of-war between legislation and reality.