corpun logoWorld Corporal Punishment Research

rainbow ruler   :   Video clips   :   School CP: Zimbabwe

School corporal punishment in Zimbabwe: Video clips


With notes by C. Farrell

Zimbabwe: Two video clips of schoolboy canings.

CLIP 1 OF 2: Group caning at a boys' high school

Duration: 1 minute
Date: 2013

Corporal punishment by caning has, at least until very recently, been routine and lawful in Zimbabwean schools, for male students. Here we are at a boys' high school in Harare. A group punishment is under way in a rather empty-looking classroom. Several African students in school uniform are being disciplined by a teacher while assuming a Korean-style "push-up" posture.

  This is a departure from either of the more usual African CP positions, viz. lying face down flat on the ground, or (particularly where there is a strong British influence) bending over. Each student receives from three to five vigorous strokes across the buttocks. The picture quality is fairly poor, and it is unclear what implement is being used, but it is probably a whippy rattan cane.


CLIP 2 OF 2: "House caning day" at a boys' boarding school

Duration: 2 minutes 20 seconds
Date: About 2009

Caning across the posterior has been a standard punishment for boys up to age 18 in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesian) schools. This video comes from a multi-racial secondary boys' boarding school that dates from the pre-1965 British era and is evidently still run on traditional English lines.

  Here a housemaster is conducting a routine group caning. About a dozen offenders have been summoned to report for punishment at the hour of doom. This seems to be a familiar weekly (or maybe even more often) ceremony, taking place in a somewhat gloomy hallway. In the opening scene they are all gathered waiting for the housemaster to emerge from his office, just out of view.

  Each student is called forward in turn. The master, evidently working from a list, informs the boy how many "cuts" (the South African terminology) he is to receive: one, two or three. The recipient then leans forward with his hands on the wall and is briskly disciplined across the seat of his school uniform trousers. He is then free to disappear up the stairs.

  Altogether, we see eleven students chastised.

  It is a little surprising that such a "British" school does not insist on a traditional bending-over posture when students are punished. Some of these boys do bend a little more than others, but apparently at their own choice. "Hands on the wall" is, one feels, a rather American custom (though also sometimes practised in Malaysia and Thailand).

  The first "customer" is a youth of about 17 who is told that as a sixth-former he gets a discount, receiving only one cut for an offence normally meriting two. One might have expected the opposite -- that as a senior he should know better and would therefore be punished more.

  One boy, a first-former, who turns up late for the session without a good excuse, gets two cuts instead of the one he was scheduled to receive.

  There is no indication as to what offences these students have committed, but they are obviously not major ones. My hunch is that they are probably sins for which in a typical day school one might expect a detention. Of course, detention in a boarding school is a rather meaningless concept. The canings shown clearly sting, but are not particularly severe. One would expect that, for serious offences at this kind of school, a more formal ritual featuring more and harder strokes would come into play, probably involving the headmaster, but I am only guessing.

  A number of the beneficiaries are seen to be clutching their buttocks and/or performing a little dance of pain as they ascend the stairs. But from the demeanour of all concerned, one can see that caning at this school is cheerfully accepted as a day-to-day punishment, and that the boys expect to get a sore backside when they break the rules.

  At the end of this clip there seem still to be one or two students left to be dealt with. The rattan itself can be glimpsed as the master uses it to point at somebody in the last second or two of the clip. It is hard to be sure, but I think it does not look to be as long as the Singapore school cane.


blob Video clips

blob Picture index

blob About this website

blob Country files  Main menu page

Copyright © C. Farrell 2013, 2021
Page updated May 2021