CORPORAL PUNISHMENT: Four teachers to go on trial on charges of assault in Namibia

Summary: More than a year after a corporal punishment scandal rocked a Windhoek private school, four of its teachers are expected to appear in court soon on charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

[22 June 2011] - A prosecutor at the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court yesterday afternoon confirmed that the four teachers have to make their first court appearance on October 25.

It is understood that a summons has been issued to the four to appear in court. This means that they were not arrested in connection with the alleged crime.

The teachers’ alleged criminal conduct came to light after the pupil’s father laid charges of assault against the four – three men and a woman.

Various means of intervention were attempted previously but were said to have backfired in the form of alleged intimidation of the child in question. Moreover, the father was forced to remove his son from this prestigious school. Then he said: “It is an ugly thing. These people are on an island in Kleine Kuppe (where Windhoek Gymnasium is situated).” The boy’s mother yesterday welcomed the news that a court date has been set for her son’s alleged assailants.  

According to information provided, the teachers are said to have beaten this boy as well as other children with objects ranging from “a blunt wooden object, a blunt wooden stick and a sort of PVC pipe” on various occasions.
Upon enquiry, the school’s managing director, Colette Rieckert, yesterday said the matter had been dealt with internally. She claimed that it was found that “there were no grounds” to either suspend or fire any of the teachers said to be involved. “We finalised the matter.”

She said she could not comment any further.

The regional crime coordinator of the Namibian Police in the Khomas Region, Deputy Commissioner Silvanus Nghishidimbwa, yesterday afternoon said he was not aware that a court date has been set.

He earlier told The Namibian that the matter was enjoying priority.

One of the suspects earlier admitted to the newspaper that he had given “a couple of boys” a hiding “in light spirits”.

On the school’s website, it is stated that “the aim of the disciplinary system is to create an ordered and structured environment, not to create anxiety or fear with our learners”.

Furthermore, it is stated that pupils and teachers “will continuously be trained to ensure that each pupil knows that he/she must take responsibility for his/her actions and take punishment when he/she transgresses. The teachers must utilise the disciplinary system to encourage and motivate the learners to cooperate in a respectful manner.”
The Minister of Education, Abraham Iyambo, is on record declaring that corporal punishment will not be condoned.


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