By Samuel Kadungure
CHIMANIMANI – At least 30 boys believed to be the ringleaders of a students protest over watching World Cup games that rocked Mutambara High School on Sunday are facing severe penalties of expulsion and arrest on charges of malicious damage to property.
A team probing the riots that torched the United Methodist Church-run boarding school recommended that the ringleaders be severely dealt with to signal the institution’s disapproval of unruly behaviour.
Mostly Form Four, Three and Two students and Lower Six students participated in the riots.
Other recommendations are that their parents foot repairs of the 569 windowpanes which were vandalised at the dining hall, girls’ hostels and deputy head’s house, eight gates, furniture, kitchen utensils and the wind screen of a vehicle belonging to Reverend Masvotsa, whom the students accused of banning Scripture Union.
Acting Manicaland Provincial Education Director Mr Andrew Chigumira confirmed the unrest, adding that parents with children who participated in the unrest should foot costs of the repairs.
Mr Chigumira was not explicit about the disciplinary action against the students, but boldly declared that registration of grievances through violence was unacceptable.
“School children are allowed to air grievances, but expressing their issues through violence is unacceptable. Violence is not the answer, we condemn such behaviour.
“It was pointless for them to smash windowpanes, a vehicle windscreen and destroy the eight gates because in the end, the cost of the repairs will be footed by their parents,” said Mr Chigumira.
Police investigations are continuing.
The students adamantly raised a string of allegations bordering on the abuse of their rights.
They accused the deputy school head, one Mr Chikwenjere, of confiscating their cell phones and demanding bribes to secure their return.
They further accused him of other corrupt practices.
Mr Chikwenjere could not be contacted for comment as he was reported to be locked in a crisis meeting when The Manica Post visited the troubled school on Monday.
The students also demanded the immediate removal of an abusive security guard, one Mr Chikoti, who assaulted a Form Two pupil thereby provoking an angry reaction from the students.
Mr Chikoti’s whereabouts were not known at the time of going to Press.
He disappeared from the school on Sunday evening as the students bayed for his blood.
It was also not immediately clear what disciplinary measures would be taken against him for beating up the child.
The students accused the guard of violent conduct, which includes canning and pinching.
The students also accused teachers at the school of ill-treating them.
They alleged they were being made to pay $50 to have confiscated cell phones back.
Students are not allowed to have cell phones at the school and while authorities confiscate them, the students complained that they pay through the nose to have them returned.
They also complained of poor and insufficient food and corporal punishment.
They accused school authorities of prohibiting them from purchasing supplementary foodstuff from the adjacent business centre where it was cheaper than the school tuck shop.
Sources at the school said tempers flared up when students were barred from watching the Netherlands-Mexico Brazil game as some had requested to watch the match from the library while others insisted on using the facility for study.
The disagreement forced the deputy head to cancel the screening of the matches and instructed the students to go back to their dormitories under the watchful eyes of security guards.
A security guard allegedly assaulted one student – thereby igniting the anger of boys who had bottled up.
The usually tranquil school degenerated into free-for-all as they vandalised property during that evening.
The situation calmed following the intervention of police, who are now investigating the disturbances.
The students chanted a chorus “Mukatibhowa tinomutsa jambanja”.
“We are learning under oppression. The system does not observe our rights, especially the deputy head. He is an oppressor, who makes our life miserable each time the head is away. That is why students targeted his house,” said a student who refused to be named for fear of victimisation. Manica Post