A CHIMANIMANI man is seeking justice after his 15-year-old son died shortly after being spanked with a broom by his teacher over unwritten notes.
The incident has torched a storm among Mhakwe villagers who are demanding justice for Tongai Chirongwe’s death as well as the removal of the teacher, Farai Mandikutse, from the school. Tongai, who was in Form One at Mhakwe Secondary School, died a few days after his Agriculture teacher — Mandikutse — smacked him with a broom.
Following the beating, the teenager started vomiting and discharging blood from his mouth, nose and faecal matter. He died on July 6 and the matter was only reported to the police on December 20. Tongai, who suffered from haemophilia — a bleeding disorder — since birth, died at Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital.
This was despite the fact that all school teachers had been warned against beating the child because of his chronic illness by his father, Mr Japhet Chirongwe.
“When I enrolled my child at the school, I produced all his hospital cards that proved that he suffered from haemophilia and that they should not beat him as any silly mistake would kill him. They had the hospital cards, but Mandikuse beat him with a broom resulting in the deterioration of his health. They killed my son.
“When my son came back home that day, he told us that Mandikutse had spanked him with a broom on his back. There was evidence of blood clotting on his back. He started vomiting blood, while some of it was coming out through his nose and we rushed him to Biriiri Mission Hospital where he was transferred to Mutambara Mission Hospital.
“It was at Mutambara Mission Hospital where he vomited blood clots that filled a five-litre bucket. The hospital referred us to Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital where he later died.”
Mr Chirongwe said no post mortem was performed on his son’s body as he had no money for the procedure. The matter only came to light at Acting Chief Saurombe’s court recently after it had been transferred from Chief Muusha’s court.
It was alleged that Mandikutse was refusing to compensate the family for the expenses incurred during Tongai’s funeral as per their agreement with the family.
“He confessed beating the child with a broom. Tongai’s classmates also confirmed this. He paid US$1 as matendandava (admission of guilty) and promised to pay US$200 later. He is now refusing to compensate us for the funeral expenses.”
Mandikutse, however, said even though he admitted beating the child, he did not agree to pay for the funeral expenses.
“I will not pay that money. I will take the police route and report the matter as extortion. I no longer want to appear before this court.”
Corporal punishment was generally used as a disciplinary measure for ill behaviour in Zimbabwe before it was outlawed in 2017 through a High Court ruling that declared Article 60(2) (c) of the Educational Act unconstitutional.
Manicaland Provincial Education Director, Mr Edward Shumba said although corporal punishment is illegal in Zimbabwe and might warrant disciplinary action for the teacher from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, the report is yet to reach his office.
“Unfortunately, a report of that incident is still to be submitted to my office. However, when such matters happen, the teacher in question will face disciplinary action and most probably face criminal charges. At the moment, I cannot comment much because I do not have concrete facts. We will look into it.”
Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Nobert Muzondo said the fact that the teacher beat the learner with a broom warrants his arrest.
“It is sad that no such report was made to the police. However, the police will look into it. The fact that the child in question was already buried will not deter us as we will approach the relevant authorities and apply for permission to exhume the body so that we ascertain the real cause of the boy’s death.
‘‘His parents should not be afraid of the post mortem costs as the State will cater for that. It is actually shocking that a police report was never made in such a horrendous matter.”
Insp Muzondo said Mandikutse will be charged with murder or culpable homicide charges depending on the investigations once a report is made.
“If indeed one’s death was as a result of assault, a murder charge is sufficient. We, however, urge parents and community members to report such matters to the police and not conceal them.”
Haemophilia is a bleeding disorder in which the blood does not clot properly and it is usually inherited. This can lead to spontaneous internal bleeding as well as bleeding following injuries or surgery.