Teacher arraigned for assault on Grade One pupil

Mashudu Netsianda Senior Court Reporter—
A BULAWAYO primary school teacher, who allegedly assaulted a Grade One pupil resulting in the boy accidentally stabbing himself with a sharp pencil in the head, appeared in court yesterday. Sibongile Nyathi, 54, of Nketa, who is a teacher at Hugh Beadle Primary School, appeared before Bulawayo magistrate, Marylin Mutshina, facing a charge of assaulting the boy, 6, two months ago. Nyathi allegedly assaulted the minor for failing to space words in sentences using his finger.

The boy is lucky to be alive after staying for two months with a piece of the pencil in his head after it broke off when he was allegedly assaulted by his teacher in March.

Mutshina remanded Nyathi to today for continuation of trial. One of the doctors who examined the boy is expected to testify.

The victim’s mother was the first state witness to give evidence in court.

When the mother took to the witness stand she narrated how her son endured two months of agonising pain with the pencil stub lodged in his head. She also told the court that they consulted several doctors and surgeons who failed to detect the foreign object in her son’s head.

“When I received a call from Nyathi telling me about the incident, I quickly rushed to the school and she informed me that my son had injured himself when he accidentally stabbed himself in the head with a pencil. I went back home and collected some tablets and gave Nyathi so that she could administer the drugs to my son,” said the mother.

She told the court that her son stabbed himself while trying to duck Nyathi’s blow.

“When I asked my son what had transpired, he said Nyathi was teaching him how to write sentences by putting a finger between words to create space. She got frustrated because my son was failing to grasp the concept leading to her assaulting him. In trying to avoid the slap, my son stabbed himself with a pencil,” she said.

“I left him at school to finish his work with others as the wound seemed to be small, but he was refusing to remain behind as he continued to say he was afraid that his teacher would beat him up,” said the mother.

She said she took him home in the afternoon, but he was crying all the way. The mother told the court that she got reports that her son refused to eat anything during lunch. She then decided to take him to the clinic on the following day.

The mother, in her evidence, said surgeons at United Bulawayo Hospitals and Mpilo Central Hospital failed to detect the pencil stub that had broken off inside the boy’s head for more than two months.

“Days went by but the wound was getting worse. At the beginning of May we ended up going to United Bulawayo Hospitals, where the surgeon referred him for a scan but still, they could not see the pencil. On May 2, after having tried all options, we then decided to buy those bandages that suck all the puss out and we then put them on him. The following day we then discovered that there was something that seemed to be protruding from the wound. On May 4, the tip of the pencil appeared, we then took the boy back to UBH, where he was admitted and the pencil was removed,” said the victim’s mother.

She said due to the gravity of the matter, she and her husband then decided to report the matter to Sauerstown police leading to Nyathi’s arrest.

Nyathi, through her lawyers, Edzai Matika and Chipo Mahlangu of Munyaradzi Gwisai and Partners, denies assaulting the boy.

She said the charges were trumped up and meant to tarnish her image.

“On that particular day I was conducting a lesson which demanded demonstration of spacing words when writing and the boy seemed to face difficulties in grasping the technique.

“When I went closer to him and lifted my finger so that I could assist him he panicked thinking that I wanted to hit him and in the process he ducked and injured himself with a pencil which he was holding,” said Nyathi.

Prosecuting, Danmore Kasenza said on March 12 at around 8AM, the boy was attending class at Hugh Beadle Primary when Nyathi assaulted him with an open hand and in the process he stabbed himself with a pencil in the head.

He sustained a deep wound and a swollen eye.

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