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School CP - May 2010

Corpun file 22273

Times of Swaziland, Mbabane, 26 May 2010

30 primary school pupils whipped for relationships

By Zwelakhe Moahloli

MANZINI -- About 30 primary school pupils were each whipped more than 20 times for being in alleged love relationships.

The school, Sibuyeni Primary School, is situated approximately 26 kilometres from Manzini.

On Wednesday, at about 10am, culprits were called to assembly where they found the principal, members of the school committee, their parents and some teachers, all armed with sticks.

The ages of the children suspected to be in love range from 11 to 16 years, and are in Grades IV to VII.

Desks were strategically placed on the veranda near the assembly point, which were to be used as 'sacrifice-tables'. Behind each desk was an adult who was armed with a stick.

The children, with the youngest estimated to be 11 years-old were ordered to lie flat on their stomachs on top of the desks.

The whole exercise which was witnessed by other pupils lasted for about an hour.

After the disciplinary measures had been taken against them, the pupils were ordered back to class.

Narrating how they were hauled before the 'disciplinary committee', one of the pupils stated that a colleague was found standing with a boy at Vusweni, which is a neighbouring community.

"She was confronted by one of the senior residents of the area with the intention of assaulting her for being found with a boy.

"However, the boy retaliated by throwing stones at the senior citizen.

"The next day, she was called by the school committee's vice-chairman to explain why she did not show respect toward her elders.

"The vice-chairman gave her two options, being that she be expelled or she should come with her parents.

"She was further ordered to compile a list of all pupils she knew to be in love relationships," the pupil said.

The pupil stated that some pupils confessed to be having love affairs while others flatly denied the accusations.

The school's principal who wanted to be identified only as H. Mahlalela confirmed that disciplinary measures were meted on the children.

"The children were brought by their parents to the school to be disciplined. The whipping was done mostly by the parents. We only played a small part," she said.

Mahlalela added that there was nothing sinister about this because the children were accustomed to being sjamboked by their parents at the school.

"The children are used to it," she said.

Asked to explain how many strokes were administered on each child, Mahlalela said each pupil received about five lashes.

She was quick to point out that the five strokes was the minimum as per the corporal punishment code states.

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