Three school boarding masters guilty of assault

2012-12-21 16:49

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Three boarding masters from an upmarket Mpumalanga school have been found guilty of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Officials at Cefups Academy, which is situated on Fredenheim farm between Nelspruit and White River, have been using corporal punishment on pupils since the school’s opening in 1993, and the Mpumalanga education department has failed to act on numerous complaints over the years.

Although among the best-performing schools, Cefups’ excellent academic record has been overshadowed by its disregard for the South African Schools Act, which imposes a blanket ban on corporal punishment in both private and public schools.

The boarding masters severely assaulted Musa Nkambule (18), Tsholofelo Matabane (19), Hawick Miquen (21) and Tshepo Ndlovu (18) when they attended a beauty pageant at the school on April 21.

The four youngsters were not pupils at the school but were related to Grade 11 pupil Nothando Kenny (17).

They were assaulted by Jaconia Nkosi (44), Henry Mphokane (30) and Nhlanhla Mazibuko (44) when Kenny went out of the hall to speak to them.

Kenny was the first to be beaten and when her cousins intervened they were locked up in a room where they were flogged with sjamboks, and beaten with fists, shoes, stones and bricks. Matabane and Miquen managed to escape while the other two were rescued by police.

The Nelspruit Magistrates’ Court will sentence the boarding masters on January 7 next year. They are out on R4 000 bail each.

Cefups Academy president Simon Mkhatshwa declined to comment.

“I’m on holiday, boet. I’m resting now,” Mkhatshwa said.

Mpumalanga education spokesperson Jasper Zwane did not respond to text messages but he had previously said the department had no power to act against a private schools for beating up pupils.

In September, three parents and their children anonymously spoke to City Press about the assaults.

A 16-year-old pupil laid assault charges against two boarding masters after they allegedly lashed him with a sjambok for going to a shopping mall without permission in August.

He was treated at the Nelspruit Medi-Clinic after which charges were laid at the Nelspruit police station.

A 19-year-old pupil was allegedly beaten up and expelled in May because his mother left him food with the school’s security guards. The teenager’s mother said her son had to hitch-hike about 300km from Nelspruit to home in Secunda.

Another pupil was allegedly sjambokked and expelled in June because a female school mate had photographs in her camera of boys and girls together.

His mother said her son was expelled after she refused to pay a R20 000 fine.

Mkhatshwa was aggressive and declined to respond to these allegations when City Press approached him in September, and said the paper should rather report about the shooting of mineworkers in Marikana.

Mkhatshwa had personally been implicated in assaults.

He appeared in court in 1997 after he allegedly squeezed and twisted a 19-year-old pupil’s testicles in front of the school assembly because the youth had been caught sleeping in class. The charges were dismissed because no one was willing to testify.

Mkhatshwa was sentenced to three months in jail or a R1 000 fine in 1999 after being convicted for publicly sjamboking the academy’s English teacher, Lindi Maphanga.

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