Officials assaulted after ‘corporal punishment’ school closed

Mpumalanga police are hunting a group of men who disrupted a meeting about the closure of a notorious private school and assaulted provincial education department officials.

The men on Monday stormed into a hall in KaNyamazane township, assaulted officials and destroyed documents when parents of the closed Cefups Academy were being informed about schools that could admit their children in 2015.

The department closed down Cefups Academy, situated outside Mbombela, last month when its investigation task team found that the school was using corporal punishment.

Education MEC Reginah Mhaule has rejected Cefups’ appeal, and the matter is now expected to go to court.

The department conducted the investigation following the death of Grade 12 pupil, Paballo Seane (19), in August. Seanne was the niece of deputy arts and culture minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi.

Seanne was allegedly sjambokked at the school before she died at the Nelspruit Mediclinic, but police are still waiting for postmortem results to determine the cause of her death.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brigadier Selvy Mohlala said one of the assailants was known to the officials.

“They came in two minibuses and stormed the meeting. One of them is known and we are looking for him,” said Mohlala.

Provincial education spokesperson Jasper Zwane said the meeting was addressed by officials from the department’s Ehlanzeni region.

“We’re optimistic that they will be arrested soon. We’re keeping our promise to parents that we would assist them with registering their children for next year, but Cefups decided to take violence to our meeting. It means they’ve been condoning violence,” said Zwane.

Cefups Academy owner Simon Mkhatshwa denied that he had anything to do with the disruption of the department’s meeting.

“They will always say I organised [the disruption], but we were not part [of it]. The meeting was about Cefups and they should have held it at our premises where there is surveillance and people are screened before they enter,” said Mkhatshwa.

“If you take people to an unsafe site, they will be vulnerable,” he added.

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