Pupil died after being sjambokked ‘for doing badly in test’

2014-08-17 15:01

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Paballo Seane was so brutally sjambokked?–?allegedly because she did badly in a test?–?that she died in hospital last week.

The 19-year-old matric pupil from Bloemfontein was a learner at the infamous Cefups Academy outside Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, a school known for its corporal punishment.

After interviewing pupils and teachers in separate investigations, police and education officials confirmed for the first time that Seane had been whipped.

Police spokesperson Selvy Mohlala said Seane and other pupils were allegedly “assaulted” for getting poor marks in a test.

Education department spokesperson Jasper Zwane confirmed this, saying: “Some pupils were sjambokked on the day, but we can’t go into the details of our investigation report.”

Seane’s brother said his family had not known about the school’s reputation for corporal punishment. “We got different stories from people, but the matter is now in the hands of the police and they will identify the correct story,” he said.

He said his sister, who was new to the school and intended to study agriculture next year, never complained.

“We didn’t know about the school’s dark side. She never complained. We sent her there because of the school’s good matric results.”

Cefups pupils took to Facebook this week to say the school’s “president”, Simon Mkhatshwa, told them Seane was sent to hospital because she had swallowed antiseptic, but police and education authorities are waiting for a postmortem report.

City Press has regularly published stories of horrific assaults at the school.

Last year, we reported on a 16-year-old boy who was sjambokked by two boarding masters for going to a shopping mall without permission.The boy sustained an eye injury in an earlier beating at the school.

A teen aged 19 was beaten and expelled in May last year and forced to hitchhike 300km to his home.

Another boy was sjambokked and expelled in June because a female schoolmate had photographs on her camera of boys and girls together.

In April, City Press reported on the sentencing of three boarding masters who assaulted three teenagers while they were at the school to support their cousin, Nothando Kenny, in a beauty pageant.

Kenny, one of the school’s head girls, told City Press she and the other head pupils were encouraged to beat their peers and even insult teachers, cooks and construction workers at the institution.

“As head girls, we were instructed to beat up other girls and tie them to poles. Our toilets were not functioning and we were forced to use our hands to remove s**t.

“Sometimes we would be told to insult the cooks and any child who had failed a test,” she said. Although it is not known what marks Seane got for her test, Kenny said pupils would be lashed for getting 70% or less for a test.

“It worked like this?–?if you got 70%, you would get 30 strokes of the sjambok, for 50% it was 50 strokes,” she said. Another former head girl, who asked not to be named, said she was sjambokked for falling pregnant.

“I fell pregnant in my matric year.

“The news reached a male teacher and he forced me to strip naked before other girls. He beat me up and encouraged them to abuse me.

“I was humiliated and am still traumatised to this day.

“I’m a law student and will get Cefups closed down one day,” she said.

Mkhatshwa did not respond to calls, text messages or emails requesting comment.

“The school has appointed a spokesperson. I’ll give you contact details,” Mkhatshwa said on Thursday.

But no details were supplied.

Zwane said: “We found that corporal punishment does happen at the school and that is our concern.”

The department gave Mkhatshwa 30 days to explain why Cefups should not be closed down. A medical doctor, who asked not to be named, said being sjambokked could certainly cause a girl to die.

“Girls have more fat in their bodies.

“What happens is that the fat can break down during a beating, get into the veins and clog them.” He said the clots could then find their way into the lungs.

“This is called pulmonary embolism and can cause death.” But Modibe Modiba, a past head boy, only had praise for the school.

“I was on the receiving end of punishment, [but] I never went to hospital or died. I’m grateful to Cefups and to be honest, [without the punishment], I wouldn’t have finished school and passed with distinction.”

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