An 11-year-old boy in Swaziland lost an eye when a cane his schoolteacher was using to illegally beat other pupils broke and splintered. It is one of a long line of abuses against children in the kingdom in the name of corproral punishment.
The boy from Ekuphakameni Community Primary School in the outskirts of Hlatikhulu was sitting at his desk in a classroom when it happened.
The Times of Swaziland reported on Tuesday (26 September 2017), 'The youngster said he was not among the pupils who were being punished for urinating outside the school toilets. Instead, he said he got injured in the eye when the stick the teacher was using broke, with the broken piece flying straight into his eyeball.'
The schoolboy's father said his son was first taken to Hlatikhulu Government Hospital where it was discovered that most of the vital parts of the eye were seriously damaged. He was transferred to the Mbabane Government Hospital where he was eventually operated on and the eye removed.
This is not the first time a child has been injured in this way. In 2011, a 10-year-old girl at kaLanga Nazarene Primary school was blinded for life in her left eye after a splinter from a teacher's stick flew and struck it during punishment. She was injured when her teacher was hitting another pupil, with a stick which broke.
Another pupil in Swaziland was thrashed so hard that he later collapsed unconscious and had to be rushed to a clinic. Six pupils at Mafucula High school were thrashed with 20 strokes of a 'small log' because they were singing in class. It was reported that the boy who became unconscious was not one of those misbehaving, but he was flogged nonetheless.
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 2011, it was reported girls at Mpofu High School were being flogged by teachers on their bare flesh and if they resisted they were chained down so the beating could continue. They were said to have been given up to 40 strokes at a time. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported at the time the children said 'that when they are beaten, they are made to strip naked on the lower body so that the teachers can beat them on bare flesh'.
One girl told the newspaper, 'The teachers make us lie on a bench whereby if you are a girl you lift your skirt so that they can beat you on bare flesh, if you resist you are chained to the bench.'
Also in 2011, Swaziland was told by the United Nations Human Rights Periodic Review held in Geneva it should stop using corporal punishment in schools, because it violated the rights of children.
The United Nations Human Rights Periodic Review received a report jointly written by Save The Children and other groups that corporal punishment in Swazi schools was out of control. The report highlighted Mhlatane High School in northern Swaziland where it said pupils were 'tortured' in the name of punishment.
The report stated, 'Students at this school are also subjected to all forms of inhumane treatment in the name of punishment. The State has known about the torture of students that go on at Mhlatane High School for a long time, but has not done anything to address this violation of fundamental rights.'
In 2015, corporal punishment was banned in Swaziland's schools, but the practice continues. As recently as August 2017 it was reported that boys at Salesian High, a Catholic school, were forced to take down their trousers and underwear to be beaten on the naked buttocks.
The Times of Swaziland reported in October 2015 that Phineas Magagula, Minister of Education and Training, warned that teachers who beat pupils should be reported to the ministry so that they could be disciplined.