By Leonard Ncube
Marist Brothers Secondary School in Dete, Hwange District, has excluded from the institution 16 Form Four pupils who last month ganged up to torture some Form Two boys at the school. In the education sector, exclusion means that pupils found guilty of committing offences are given transfer letters to seek places in other schools.
Expulsion on the other hand means that pupils cannot seek places in conventional schools and would have to resort to private schools or colleges.
The bullies were excluded from the school last week amid chaos as parents of some of the victims who were at the institution for a parents’ day were baying for their blood.
The attackers, who are from Bulawayo, Hwange and Victoria Falls, were forced to transfer after disciplinary hearings found them guilty of bullying others.
The school whose pass rate last year was 94.8 percent and 97.9 percent for Ordinary Level and A-Level respectively, has since come up with austerity measures to try and tighten its security as well as rebuild its image.
Matabeleland North acting Provincial Education Director Mr Jabulani Mpofu confirmed the exclusion of the bullies from the school.He said the Catholic Church-run school had been given an ultimatum to put its house in order for the safety of learners.
“They have been excluded from the school and they can look for places elsewhere but not return to Marist. The school authority has been engaged and given timelines to sort out whatever was not in place although I am not sure of the specific times,” said Mr Mpofu.
The school’s headmaster, Brother Jacob, was not available for comment yesterday as his mobile phone was not reachable.
The Chronicle is in possession of minutes detailing security measures the school has put in place.
According to the minutes, there is now a night security guard to patrol and monitor the boys’ hostel who will write a report every day before knocking off.
The school has also strategically positioned a suggestion box which is opened regularly while complaints handling, guidance and counselling committees were set up as the institution strives to restore its image.
The torture took place at a Form Four hostel referred to by students as the “Palace” and lasted for about five hours between 10PM and 2AM last month.
Investigations by The Chronicle established that more than 30 Form Two boys were beaten up and 23 of them sustained varying degrees of injuries.
Their attackers, who were drunk after consuming a fermented powdered cereal, accused them of stealing foodstuffs.
The victims were interrogated, forced to drink water from the toilet bowl, eat bath soap, wash clothes, bark like dogs and pull trunks while some were yoked together like a span of oxen, rammed onto the walls, chocked, kicked, punched and hit with sticks and belts.
Two boys reportedly had to go for surgery on the groin and abdomen, while some had neck, arm, fingers and rib fractures after being kicked and hit with an assortment of weapons.
One boy was injured on the eye while another lost front teeth as a result of the assault.
The victims were reportedly traumatised and reluctant to return to the school.
They have returned to school where some of them are still receiving treatment.
Parents who spoke on condition of anonymity welcomed the exclusion of bullies saying this would deter would be offenders and ensure that security prevails in the school.
“We are happy that the school disciplined the bullies and this will send a message to would be offenders. My son had vowed never to go back as long as those boys were still there and removing them from school is the best decision,” said a parent.
Another parent challenged elders to instill discipline in their children.
“This is a fair action and we are happy as parents. Some of these kids could be bullies in their own parents’ homes. I say so because some parents were defending their children saying they are innocent and that’s shocking. We should discipline our children at home to avoid such behaviour,” said the parent.
The victims’ parents now want compensation for medical expenses they incurred seeking treatment for their children.
The Form Four boys had pending disciplinary cases at the school where they sneaked out of the school premises for an alcohol binge.
After the binge, they allegedly entered a girls’ hostel at night and stole an assortment of underwear.
They also once attacked a boarding master, a teacher and some prefects. The Chronicle