Damages claim for Education MEC

2010-03-18 00:00

AN incident in northern KwaZulu-Natal in 2006 implicating two schoolteachers in an assault on a 12-year-old scholar, who was allegedly forced to urinate and drink his own urine in the classroom in front of his schoolmates, has resulted in a R524 950 claim for damages against the MEC for Education in KwaZulu-Natal.

The case came before KwaZulu-Natal Deputy Judge President Herbert Msimang in the high court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday, but was postponed indefinitely following discussions held between the legal representatives for the Education Department and the plaintiff.

The court ruled in November 2009 that the MEC for Education in the province was liable to pay compensation arising from the incident, and the only issue to now be decided is the amount.

Attorney Hlabetse Madike, who represents the boy, told The Witness that they had been unable to reach agreement on the amount of compensation yesterday. “The offer was too low,” he said.

One of the two teachers against whom the claim was directed — Willem Kriel (47) — was convicted on October 11, 2007, by a regional court magistrate in Empangeni on two counts of assault and crimen injuria arising from the incident.

His co-accused in the case, teacher Philile Mpanza, was acquitted in the criminal trial.

Kriel was sentenced by the regional court to a fine of R4 000 (or four years’ imprisonment), half of which was conditionally suspended for five years.

The father of the boy thereafter lodged a civil application for damages on his son’s behalf.

It is alleged in the particulars of the claim that, during August 2006, one or both of the schoolteachers concerned had forced the boy to urinate into a container inside the classroom, which resulted in him exposing his private parts.

He was also forced to drink his own urine and was hit with a pipe on his buttocks.

According to the documents, the assault took place inside the classroom at Mkuze Primary School, within sight of his classmates.

As a result of the incident, the boy’s father had incurred travelling expenses from uMkuze to Durban and back for purposes of having his son examined and assessed by a clinical psychologist and related costs.

The boy himself suffered psychological distress and disability, required counselling and psychological treatment, was humilia­ted, experienced pain and suffering, was traumatised and subjected to indignity.

The claim for the father’s expenses amounts to R12 450, with R512 500 being claimed on behalf of the boy.

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