|www.corpun.com : Archive : 2001 : ZA Schools May 2001|
Corpun file 7159 at www.corpun.com
African Eye News Service, Nelspruit, 14 May 2001
Pupils Sjambokked At Mpumalanga School
By Zenzele Kuhlase in Nelspruit
OVER 150 toyi-toying pupils marched on Mpumalanga's new legislature complex on Monday protesting against the use of sjamboks and corporal punishment in local private schools.
Scores of the chanting pupils bared their buttocks and backs to show welts and raw wounds from beatings at the Cefups Academy near Nelspruit.
At least two girls at the school also displayed sjamboks bruises on their arms caused, they claim, by trying to defend themselves against "out of control teachers".
The pupils, led by Congress of South Africa Students (Cosas) activists, allege that Cefups dormitory monitors and teachers regularly beat students for even minor infringements.
Provincial Cosas chair Luthando Shongwe said the academy also forced pupils to live in dangerously unsanitary conditions and had failed to provide any of the advanced science or computer facilities promised in the school prospectus.
The R18 600 per year secondary school of roughly 600 pupils from Swaziland, Gauteng and surrounding areas boasts high pass rates and claims to offer pupils one-on-one tuition in a "peaceful rural setting".
"But we are instead forced to live in dirty crowded rooms, and don't even have showers or hot water for washing. We don't what the school to close and we accept that discipline is important, but no-one should be beaten the way we are," said Grade nine pupil Xolani Mkhwanazi.
Mkhwanazi was one of over 20 pupils who displayed welts and scabs from sjamboks beatings on their buttocks, backs and legs.
"I was accused of drinking on school premises with a group of other boys. There was no proof and we were simply hauled into a room and given 30 lashes each. I cried. I now also have a reputation as a heavy drinker even though I wasn't involved," said Mkhwanazi.
Other pupils, too scared to be named, said hostel staff, pupils and even teachers were regularly berated and beaten in front of the school at assembly.
Two teachers have, Cosas claims, resigned as a result of the abuse and two others were recently fired for allegedly refusing to submit to the discipline.
A memorandum handed to provincial education head Dr Tim Mashinini demanded an immediate end to corporal punishment, improvements in sanitary conditions, an end to public humiliation of pupils and staff, proper hostel and dining facilities, and "value for money".
Shongwe warned that pupils expected government intervention at the school within three-days or pupils would resort to larger and more public protests.
Mashinini praised the pupils for standing up for their rights and for conducting a peaceful protest after normal school hours, before promising an official probe into conditions at the school.
Stressing that corporal punishment was illegal in terms of the SA Schools Act, he added that private schools had greater leeway to implement their own internal disciplinary regulations but still had to obey the law.
"The school will have to answer some difficult questions if anyone has broken they law. But we have to wait until [government] investigates your complaints, because this is currently only one side of the story," said Mashinini.
He also pledged to ensure that pupils at the protest were not intimidated and were allowed back into class.
He said alleged threats that anyone who participated in the protest would be expelled were unacceptable.
"We promise to report back to you within three-days, after we have met with parents and the school," he said.
Cosas urged pupils to return to class until an investigation report was tabled.
Cefups principal Simon Mkhatshwa was unavailable for comment. - African Eye News Service
Corpun file 7196 at www.corpun.com
African Eye News Service, Nelspruit, 17 May 2001
Private School Investigated After Sjambokking AllegationsBy Zenzele Kuhlase in Nelspruit
Mpumalanga's education department is investigating allegations that children at an expensive private school outside Nelspruit are whipped "into submission" with sjamboks.
The investigation follows a march of more than 150 pupils from Cefups Academy to the province's legislature buildings on Monday.
The children chanted, waved placards and bared their backs and buttocks to reveal raw wounds and old scars from alleged beatings at the hands of school owner Simon Mkhatshwa.
Corporal punishment is outlawed in terms of the South African Schools Act. The school has been closed since Monday, pending a meeting of its board on Friday and with parents and pupils on Sunday.
Education spokesman Peter Maminza said on Thursday that the department's investigation team would report back on Monday.
The pupils handed over a memorandum on Monday asking the department to intervene and respond within three days.
The memo demanded an immediate end to corporal punishment, inexplicably high fees, poor hygiene and the ill treatment of teachers, pupils and workers.
They also demanded proper hostel facilities and the return of expelled principal, Cobalt Koautcho.
The R18 600-a-year secondary school of roughly 600 pupils boasts a high pass rate and claimed to offer pupils one-on-one tuition in a peaceful rural setting. -- African Eye News Service
Copyright © 2001 African Eye News Service.
Corpun file 7193 at www.corpun.com
African Eye News Service, Nelspruit, 24 May 2001
Mpumalanga Orders Police Probe Into School Floggings
By Justin Arenstein in Nelspruit
Mpumalanga education MEC Craig Padayachee on Thursday ordered an urgent police investigation into the alleged public flogging of pupils at an exclusive highschool in the capital Nelspruit.
Pupils at the school are allegedly still routinely flogged with sjamboks and are also allegedly sentenced to solitary confinement in a faeces-filled 'dungeon' for even minor infringements.
Padayachee said in a brief statement on Thursday that a preliminary departmental investigation had revealed prima facie evidence that corporal punishment was still administered at the Cefups Academy in contravention of the SA Schools Act.
He said that a separate commission of inquiry would be instituted into additional claims that pupils were stripped naked in public, sentenced to solitary confinement and forced to live in unsanitary conditions in under-equipped dormitories.
"I received the investigation report with serious shock, disgust and disbelief and will support any appropriate measures to deal with this horrific situation," he said.
Padayachee added that he had instructed department head Dr Tim Mashinini to give all evidence directly to the provincial commissioner of police for urgent criminal investigation.
The abuse at Cefups was exposed after 600 pupils rebelled and marched on the provincial legislature last week, where they bared their buttocks and backs to show welts and raw wounds from beatings allegedly administered by Cefups president Simon Mkhatshwa.
At least two girls also displayed sjambok bruises on their arms caused, they claim, by trying to defend themselves against "out of control teachers".
The pupils, led by Congress of South Africa Students (Cosas) activists, allege that Mkhatshwa and his handpicked dormitory monitors regularly beat students for minor infringements.
Even teachers and other academy staff are, pupils allege, hauled before school assembly and beaten.
Mkhatshwa is no stranger to controversy. He was sentenced to three months jail or a R1000 fine in 1999 after being convicted for publicly sjambokking the academy's English teacher Lindie Maphanga. He also appeared in court in 1997 after allegedly squeezing and twisting a 19-year-old pupil's testicles in front of the school assembly because the youth had been caught sleeping in class.
The assault charges were dismissed when witnesses were too scared to testify against Mkhatshwa.
A Grade 9 pupil who spoke to the media about the alleged abuse last week, Xolani Mkhwanazi, was allegedly beaten for a second time on Monday on charges of bringing the school into disrepute.
Mkhwanazi was one of over 20 pupils who showed education officials welts and scabs from sjamboks beatings on their buttocks, backs and legs.
A 12-year-old pupil, who was too scared to be named, also told officials that pupils were terrified of being locked into solitary confinement for up to two-days at a time in 'Simbaland'. Simbaland is a small dank and dark room next to the dormitory's leaking toilets. Urine and faeces tainted water seeps into the room, making it almost impossible to breath, the boy said, adding that 'simba' is the SiSwati and isiZulu word for faeces.
Pupils, including Mkhwanazi, are also allegedly regularly pinned down and stripped of their pants and underwear in public before being whipped with sjamboks.
"It's humiliating. We are a co-ed school, but are abused and belittled in front of classmates and often have to watch while others get beaten. And it's going to get worse. The school has just ordered 15 new sjamboks," he said.
Provincial Cosas chairman Luthando Shongwe said the organisation was worried about "dangerously unsanitary conditions" at the school, where hundreds of pupils are forced to wash with cold water in the open because of inadequate bathroom facilities.
Cefups had in addition, Shongwe said, failed to provide any of the advanced science or computer facilities promised in the school prospectus.
The R18 600 per year secondary school caters to pupils from Swaziland, Gauteng and surrounding areas and boasts high exam pass rates. It claims to offer pupils one-on-one tuition in a "peaceful rural setting".
"But we are instead forced to live in dirty crowded rooms. They cram 20 of us into rooms that look like something out of a Yizo Yizo prison cell. We don't even have showers or hot water for washing," said Mkhwanazi.
Two teachers have resigned as a result of the abuse and two others were recently fired for allegedly refusing to submit to the discipline.
Padayachee said on Thursday that an independent commission would probe the claims and recommend serious remedial action if anyone was found to have transgressed the SA Schools Act or the human rights of any pupils.
The conditions at Cefups are scheduled for debate in the provincial legislature after local politicians attended a parent's meeting at the school on Sunday.
Mkhatshwa was not immediately available for comment on Thursday, but told parents on Sunday it was sometimes necessary to use corporal punishment to control "dagga smoking deviants". -- African Eye News Service
Copyright © 2001 African Eye News Service
Corpun file 7334 at www.corpun.com
Times of Swaziland, Mbabane, Swaziland, 25 May 2001
Tempers cool down at Cefups Academy
NELSPRUIT - President of the troubled Cefups Academy Simon Mkhatshwa and students have smoked a peace pipe in a meeting held last Sunday after a serious disharmony that resulted in latter staging a march where they showcased their buttocks.
The meeting was called after the students at the school also marched to the Mpumalanga legislature to seek audience with the Provincial education head, Tim Mashinini to complain about harsh corporal punishment at the school.
The students alleged that they are subjected to 20 strokes on their buttocks as corporal punishment from the school authorities. Some students had to undergo medical check-ups owing to bruises they suffer from the thorough beating.
A Swazi student who took part in the march to the Legislature but opted not to have his name published in fear of victimisation told the Times that the situation was extremely serious at the school as regards corporal punishment.
He said the last incident of severe punishment on students was witnessed on Monday where one of his colleagues was punished for leaving school without permission. "The student received 30 strokes on the buttocks and could barely walk," said one student.
He further told this newspaper that the issue of corporal punishment topped the agenda of the students meeting with the Legislature. "Over 30 students who undertook the march showcased their bums.
The intention was to show bruises they suffered from the harsh punishment they are subjected to at the school. Most students had their buttocks covered with vertical marks from the heavy sticks that are used when beaten" added the student.
Mkhatshwa ordered the school's security guard to prevent reporters from the Times from entering the school's premises.
© Copyright The Times of Swaziland.
Corpun file 7333 at www.corpun.com
Times of Swaziland, Mbabane, Swaziland, 25 May 2001
Angry Mpumalanga MPs demand report of student beatings in 60 days
NELSPRUIT - Heated members of parliament at the provincial parliament here, ordered the provincial minister of education to investigate the disharmony between students and authorities of Cefups Academy and table a report of findings within 60 days.
The debate was initiated by J M Tembo, the chairperson of education yesterday where he stated that the situation at the school needed the intervention of legislators. Tembo referred to a recent case where a student laid assault charges against the school head Simon Mkhatshwa.
The student in question was given 30 strokes on the buttocks for allegedly leaving school without reporting to the authorities. However, the student is said to have later withdrawn charges against the teacher under highly questionable circumstances.
The parliamentarians took turns lashing at the school authorities for ill treating students and called for stern actions against those found to be responsible for the brutal assault of students under the guise that it is corporal punishment.
Education minister was given specific orders to institute a probe that would entertain the concerns of the students and report back to the legislators. The core assignment as stated by the infuriated MPs is to verify the kind of punishment that is meted on students.
The investigations, the MPs said must cover all private schools under the province. The academy has a number of local students attending school.
The South African Democratic Teachers Union has also lodged a complaint with the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration concerning the two teachers Mr Timothy Mongwe, Collen Mabanga and a principal Colbert Kouatcho who were also dismissed from the school.
The dismissal of the teachers is alleged to have occurred two weeks before the students at the school protested against corporal punishment.
According to a story published by the Mpumalanga news, the union met with Mkhatshwa but both parties failed to reach a common ground. "He only told us that the teachers come late at school and Mr Mabanga was at one stage absent from the school," said provincial secretary of the union, Shamba Mthembu.
He also said when the teachers were at the school, Mkhatshwa was deducting tax from their wages but did pass it to the relevant authorities. Mkhatshwa prevented the Times from entering the school premises.
(c) Copyright The Times of Swaziland
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