By Gibson Mhaka
A teacher at a Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) church-run primary school in Bulawayo was sentenced to 18 months in prison for hitting a Grade Three pupil against a desk resulting in the child losing a tooth after he reportedly failed to solve a Mathematics problem.
Two of the child’s lower frontal teeth are loose as a result of the assault.
Sanele Khumalo (57), who was a teacher at Queen Elizabeth Adventist Primary School, pleaded not guilty to assault, but was convicted by Western Commonage magistrate Gladmore Mushove.
He however, heaved a huge sigh of relief after six months of his jail package was suspended for five years on condition of good behaviour with the 12 remaining months further suspended on condition that he completes 420 hours of unpaid service at Mgombane Primary School in Nkulumane suburb.
In coming up with the sentence, the magistrate apparently took into account the fact that Khumalo “tearfully” pleaded with the court that he was going to pay the boy’s medical bills.
According to a medical report, following the brutal attack, the pupil suffered permanent damage to his front tooth.
Khumalo was convicted after a full trial with a number of witnesses testifying, including three doctors who examined the boy and confirmed that considerable force was used for the tooth to break.
In her judgment, Mushove ruled that there was overwhelming evidence that the accused indeed committed the “heinous” crime.
“Looking at the flow of the evidence from the complainant to the mother and the doctors the court was satisfied that the accused indeed assaulted the complainant,” she said.
According to court papers, on 11 October 2017 and at around 8am, the boy was in class when the accused, who was his teacher at that time, flew into a rage after he reportedly failed to solve a long division sum.
The enraged Khumalo, the court heard, severely hit the complainant’s head against the table once which resulted in him losing his tooth with the other two becoming loose.
A medical report was produced in court as an exhibit amid fears that the pupil suffered a permanent disability as a result of the attack.
In his defence, Khumalo said on the day in question he was monitoring the pupils and when he got to the complainant’s desk, he just gave him a little pat on the shoulder, but the boy reacted by accidentally hitting his head on the desk.
His lawyer also submitted that the there was no evidence that the accused committed an offence adding that the evidence, which was led by the complainant, was at variance with that of his mother, the dentists and teacher-in-charge and also with the statements given to the State one-and-a-half years later.
Meanwhile, in September a deputy head at Nyamandlovu Primary School was also found guilty of committing a “serious breach of trust” when she brutally assaulted a Grade Seven pupil several times on the head with a mopane switch as punishment for making noise.
Victoria Vambe (52) was arrested after the 12-year-old pupil’s father learnt of the crime and notified the police.
This was after the boy, who sustained bruises on the scalp and swollen eyes, also developed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the assault.
Wheels of justice in both cases swiftly turned after B-Metro reported suspicions of plans to sweep the cases under the carpet. B-Metro