High Court outlaws beating of children at home, schools

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Daniel Nemukuyu, Harare Bureau
The High Court has issued a landmark ruling outlawing beating of children at school and in homes.

Justice David Mangota held that parents and teachers must not lay their hands on children even if they misbehave.

Recently another High Court judge Justice Esther Muremba, ruled out caning of juveniles as judicial punishment, but the decision now awaits confirmation at the Constitutional Court.

Justice Mangota also declared unconstitutional Section 69(2) (c) of the Education Act which permits corporal punishment.

Sections 3 to 7 of the Education Disciplinary Regulations 1985 contained in Statutory Instrument 362 of 1998, was declared to be in violation of the Constitution.

Justice Mangota will write a detailed judgment giving reasons for his decision. However, the matter will be sent to the Constitutional Court for confirmation.

Constitutional law expert Mr Tendai Biti, filed the court application at the High Court in June last year on behalf of a parent whose child was being beaten by a teacher at Belvedere Primary School in Harare.

Mrs Linah Pfungwa, with the support of Justice for Children’s Trust, filed the court application arguing that corporal punishment was a form of violence and must be abolished. She indicated in her affidavit that her daughter who was in Grade One, was severely assaulted with a rubber pipe by her teacher identified as Mrs Chemhere.

The reason for the punishment, Mrs Pfungwa said, was that the girl’s reading book had not been signed by guardians as confirmation that she had done her homework.

“My child suffered major bruises and I took photographs and pictures of the same. She had deep bruises on her back and she could hardly sleep properly.
“I posted the pictures of my daughter on our WhatsApp group for other parents to observe and it turned out that other children had also been assaulted.”

Mrs Pfungwa and other family members approached the headmistress at Belvedere Primary School with the complaint and she undertook to investigate.

The woman’s lawyers even wrote to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education complaining before filing the court application.

Mrs Pfungwa argued that that corporal punishment was inhuman. “I believe corporal punishment is violence against children and I do not believe that children should be subjected to any form of violence. I further believe that corporal punishment is a physical abuse of children.

“It amounts to deliberately hurting a child, which causes injuries such as bruises, broken bones, burns or cuts..”

She also argued that corporal punishment in schools was dangerous because it was administered indiscriminately without any measure of control.

At home, Mrs Pfungwa said, she did not beat up her child.

“If my child misbehaves, I ground her by denying her access to television as well as denying her pocket money or other goodies like sweets and presents.

“If she does well, I reward her by presents or extra hours of watching television.

“My child is well-behaved and well-brought up simply as a result of the dialogue that I use as a means of discipline,” she said.

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  • earlrichards

    See http://www.nospank.net. It should be against the law for adults to hit small children.

    • vusumuzi

      So in other words “we are a nation of people who have known nothing about raising children” all of us Ndebeles Khalangas Shonas Sothos etc. You mean we are a culturless society, who know nothing , and therefore should check http://www.what what !!!. This judge, an AFrican , umuntu like me , what is his source of law??African or Rome/British/Dutch??. Who has Power in society- the people or Govt ??? Who is supposed to OK laws passed?the people through MPs or Govt without consultation with People??Is this the feeling of the community, this law, or some so-called educated people believe they have authority to master those they regard as illiterate??. The People are in the Townships and Rural Villages . Are these groups ever consulted ?? Those with money seem to be calling the shots now. This woman in the story seems to use artificial incentives like TV and monetary material to “motivate”. What do those emaKhaya do? when do they speak and be heard?Some people live double-standard lives; ngenxa yemali they speak and behave English, when it suits them they say”i am an African” yet teaching children to say mummy/daddy?Who is there to speak for the township/rural woman/villager

      • earlrichards

        Spanking leads to child abuse and domestic violence. It is difficult for the children to bond with their parents, if the parents hit them.

        • Thando Siziba

          you are not well in the head and stop reading some nonsense on the internet

          • earlrichards

            Why?

    • chirenjelaur

      Then God can not punish us for our sins because we are little children?

  • God of War

    This is a third world country trying to be a first world country.

  • Gxabhashe

    You are Supreme court jugdes who were cained day in day out and you turned out fine ,now you smoke whateva you are smoking and you tell us nonsense….

  • chirenjelaur

    So “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” instruction from God is being scrapped by this judge and his lawyer? These courts should try criminal cases which are being piled as pending since they got into office instead of going against God. I doubt if even Mrs Brains [Pfungwa] is aware of what is called violence against children or child abuse. She needs to be arrested for denying her child access to TV, pocket money and gifts because that child never applied to be born in the first place. Just last year this constitutional court ordered us to look after a grown up child who would have opted to be a mother moreso taking her back to school. Where are we going exactly?

    To hell with them. Discipline is key and the rod shall make it achievable.

  • Hayibi !

    This Judge should take children that he does not want beaten and take care of them at the courts . You can not tell us how to leave our children to die quickly because of indiscipline . The constitution needs to be changed to suit our culture . As for Biti , this is why you have no respect for leaders , no discipline and want our children to be like you .

    • Dombodema

      Grade one please thus brutal Zanu brutal chayoyo guys what do a grade one child know beaten simple for not getting her book signed that is madness at its high order

  • Dombodema

    Don’t agree with that rubbish book of yours

    • Thando Siziba

      corporal punishment would probably have made a better you.

  • Bheki

    I think zimbabweans in general behave better as compared to some people because of that corporal punishment. if it is abolished then we are headed for trouble with our youth and children. However, corporal punishment must be closely monitored so that it does not escalate to abuse by both parents and teachers in schools.

  • Phindi

    Why are we trying to act like the Westerners? Zimbabwe has come this far because of how most of us have been raised. Take a look at children in Europe, one can’t raise their voice to rebuke their child. If this new law goes through Zimbabwe will be well on its road to having rebellious children just like the westeners,. Of course there’s a point when beating a child becomes domestic violence and that can be dealt with, but totally eradicating corporal punishment will bring all us children to the ground.

  • Suzanne Alexander

    Recently a report two children beaten one with a kettle court, on report to management it was brushed off the answer look the other way
    My answer if you not going to do anything about it I will have to be obliged to report it
    Should I or will I loose my employment