Police in Mbeya Region are holding five teachers from Mbeya Day Secondary School in connection with the much-documented brutal beating of a student at the learning institution - both in print and video.
A video clip purporting to show more than three teachers brutally beating the student, including on the head and at one point kicking him and throwing him on the floor, went viral on various social networks within and outside the country.
Speaking to the 'Daily News' in a telephone interview, Mbeya Regional Police Commander (RPC), Mr Dhahiri Kidavashari, said the five teachers were being held as part of the ongoing investigations into the brutal beating of the student, Sebastian Chinguku from Form 3A.
"We cannot at the moment categorically say these teachers are the ones appearing in the video clip making rounds in the social media; but we believe interrogations will shed light on the matter," Mr Kidavashari explained.
The video clip shows more than three heavily set men allegedly brutally beating up the frail male student who was wearing a dark green cardigan, blue trousers and white shirt - at one point throwing him down on the concrete floor, heating his head in the process. One of the men, dressed in khaki trousers, held the boy's face down with one hand and raining heavy blows or slaps on the student's face.
The clip shows the teachers throwing the boy down several times, heating his head on the floor as they continued beating him, while in the background a female voice could be heard pleading with the men to stop beating the boy as they could badly hurt him.
The atrocity, done by the three men described as trainee teachers from different universities attached to the school, has prompted the Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Mwigulu Nchemba and the Mbeya Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Amos Makalla, at different times yesterday to issue statement condemning the act and directing state organs to arrest the culprits involved.
Mr Nchemba said police were interrogating the teachers and also recording a statement from Sebastian in addition to ensuring that the student gets proper medical treatment.
"I have directed state organs in Dar es Salaam to find and arrest the culprits who apparently have gone back to their respective universities," he explained.
The three teachers, who beat up the Form 3 student according to the minister, are Frank Msigwa and John Deo, both from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) and Sanke Gwamaka from Nyerere Memorial University (NMU) at Kivukoni, also in Dar es Salaam.
Mr Makalla said police in Mbeya Region are holding several teachers, including the school's headmaster, for interrogation and getting a statement from the student. "I want to assure the public that the police will find the trainee teachers involved in the matter so that they face the full wrath of the law," Mr Makalla vowed.
The Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, condemned the corporal punishment, explaining that her ministry did not condone such violent acts against defenceless children.
"We are not saying that children shouldn't be punished. But what those teachers did amounted to an act of violence against a child and not punishment as such.
There are regulations on caning students and on particular parts of the body," she explained, adding that she could not herself bear to watch the entire clip because of the cruelty involved in it.
She added that her ministry will continue to promote and advocate safe environment in both primary and secondary schools where pupils/ students will feel safe, stressing that such cruelty will scare children from going to school.
Preliminary investigations show that the altercation stemmed from unfinished homework in English subject that had been issued by one of the trainee teachers, Frank Msigwa.
The trainee teacher decided to punish the students who did not complete their homework, making them do pushups and kneeling, to which Sebastian said he could not do because he had a bad knee.
This angered the trainee teacher, who took the student to the staff room and with the help of his colleagues, proceeded to brutally beat up the student.
The student has not been seen in school since the incident, which took place on September 28. The trainee teachers also left at the same time and have also not been seen at the school since then.