African Eye News Service, September 29, 1999
Beaten Girl Loses Eye--Swazi Youth Want to Ban School Beatings
By Lunga Masuku
Mbabane (African Eye News Service, September 29, 1999) - Swaziland Youth Congress president Bongani Masuku this week called on the country to ban corporal punishment in schools, African Eye News Service (South Africa) reports.
His demand comes after a 12-year-old girl, who lost her eye when a teacher beat pupils with a tree branch, won compensation in the courts.
Masuku said South Africa banned corporal punishment because teachers were abusing it, but there was no such ban in the kingdom of Swaziland.
"As the youth of this country we want the regime to know that (corporal punishment) is creating an atmosphere that makes learning very difficult for pupils, because they will be scared of their teachers," Masuku said.
Tenanile Mkhonta lost the eye in 1996, and last week she was awarded compensation of R350 000 by the High Court of Swaziland.
Peter Dunseith appeared on behalf of the girl's father, Dumsani Mkhonta, before Justice Thomas Masuku. Khulile Sikhondze, who represented the government, admitted responsibility for the loss of her eye, but argued that the compensation was too high.
The court heard that Tenanile was sitting in the front row at Ezulwini Primary School when she was inijured. It happened when a teacher identified only as Mrs. Dlamini thrashed two other girls on their buttocks with the branch, because they stayed away from school without permission.
While she was beating the pupils, a splinter flew off the branch and hit Senanile's eye.
She started bleeding profusely. Mrs. Dlamini gave her toilet paper and told her to wipe away the blood, and sit outside the classroom until lunch break.
At break Mrs. Dlamini told Tenanile to go to her elder sister, who would take her to hospital. The sister took Tenanile to the principal, who arranged for the girl to go to Mbabane government hospital.
Mrs. Dlamini went to the staff room. Judge Masuku granted R350 000 in compensation, including medical treatment and future medical needs. This included R275 000 for general damages, pain and suffering, permanent disability, and loss of the amenities of life.
The judge said Tenanile had permanently lost her eye, would have to undergo another operation, and would have to cope with an artificial eye for the rest of her life.
He also said Tenanile suffered psychologically after being left with one eye, which inevitably injured her self-esteem and might affect her marriage prospects.
Copyright 1999 African Eye News Service. Distributed via Africa News Online.