1 June 2017

Swaziland: Pupils Beaten Unlawfully At School

Pupils at a primary school in Swaziland were thrashed because they did not bring enough empty milk cartons to class.

It happened at Lubombo Central Primary School in Siteki, according to a report in the Times of Swaziland on Tuesday (20 May 2017).

After years of physical abuse of children, in 2015 corporal punishment in schools was abolished, but teachers across the kingdom still use it.

According to the Times, Lubombo Central Primary is participating in a waste collection and recycling competition initiated by dairy products manufacturing company, Parmalat Swaziland. Schools are required to collect empty containers of Umcenge Milk, which are then collected by Parmalat. The school which collects the most containers will be awarded with E20,000 (US$1,520).

The Times reported that all pupils at the school, 'have been instructed to collect at least 10 empty containers of Umcenge Milk per day'.

It said, 'Pupils who fail to bring to school the containers are punished by the head teacher.'

It quoted a source saying, 'Last week, the head teacher visited all classes and beat pupils who did not bring with them the containers. Some pupils tried explaining that they couldn't find the containers but the head teacher continued punishing them.'

Swaziland has a long history of atrocities committed by teachers against their pupils in the name of 'discipline'. Even when it was permitted, there were rules about how corporal punishment could be administered, these were largely ignored.

As recently as March 2017, children at Masundvwini Primary School boycotted classes because they live in fear of the illegal corporal punishment they are made to suffer. Local media reported that children are hit with a stick, which in at least one case is said to have left a child 'bleeding from the head'.

In August 2016, an eight-year-old schoolboy at Siyendle Primary School, near Gege was thrashed so hard in class he vomited. His teacher reportedly forced classmates to hold the boy down while he whipped him with a stick. It happened after a group of schoolboys had been inflating condoms when they were discovered by the teacher.

In June 2016, the school principal at the Herefords High School was reported to police after allegedly giving a 20-year-old female student nine strokes of the cane on the buttocks. The Swazi Observer reported at the time, 'She was given nine strokes on the buttocks by the principal while the deputy helped her by holding the pupil's hands as she was made to lie down, said the source.'

In September 2015, the Times reported a 17-year-old school pupil died after allegedly being beaten at school. The pupil reportedly had a seizure.

In March 2015, a primary school teacher at the Florence Christian Academy was charged with causing grievous bodily harm after allegedly giving 200 strokes of the cane to a 12-year-old pupil on her buttocks and all over her body.

In February 2015, the headteacher of Mayiwane High School Anderson Mkhonta reportedly admitted giving 15 strokes to a form 1 pupil for not wearing a neck tie properly.

In April 2015, parents reportedly complained to the Ndlalane Primary School after a teacher beat pupils for not following his instruction and shaving their hair.

In October 2014, 20 pupils were thrashed before they sat an examination because they had been absent from school studying for the exam the previous day.

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