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Punched, kicked, slapped, to instil fear

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LUYENGO – Relatives of pupils attending school at Malkerns Juvenile Industrial School expressed concern about the safety of the children.
This comes after the pupils from both primary and high school were severely assaulted by a team of about 15 Correctional Services officers using belts, sneakers, open hands and kicked all over their bodies.

The assault is said to have lasted for about five and a half hours from 8:30am until after 2pm.
Some of the pupils still do not know why they were assaulted last week Wednesday.
The school has an enrolment of about 430 pupils and they include juvenile offenders and those who attend class there due to close proximity to their homes. Over two thirds of them were assaulted.

One of the relatives who called Swazi News said he had gone there to check on his brother and was shocked when he saw the bruises on his back.
“You would be shocked at the bruises on his back. When I asked what had happened he informed me that they had been beaten at school. He said no reason or explanation was given except that they were beaten by a group of officers.
“I wonder if the children are safe in there because it seems like they are treated worse than hardened criminals. Yes they may have done wrong but this is no way for them to be treated.

“This is a correctional institution and I doubt that this is a way of correcting someone who has done wrong. You cannot correct a wrong with another wrong. This needs to be investigated so that the children are protected and those found to have been on the wrong be brought to book,” said the angry relative.

Correctional Services Commissioner Mzuthini Ntshangase said: “Thina besicala ukube thusa (It was the first time we used corporal punishment).”
Ntshangase was quick to clarify that a stick was used when meting out the corporal punishment.
However, this was dismissed as untrue by some of the pupils who were interviewed.
“They were using belts, open hands and an All-Star (sneaker). We were ordered to strip naked before being assaulted all over the body, indiscriminately.

“We were hit on our backs with the All Star. As a result of this attack, we were left nursing bruises and welts,” said some of the pupils. The attack was also described by another as being worse than police torture known as ‘lishubhu’.
Another said: “Besi bulawa (we were being murdered).”

Narrating events leading to the ‘initiation’, some of the pupils said the ‘torture’ started at around 8:30am and lasted until 2pm.
One of the pupils, who could not walk properly as a result of the beating said after the morning assembly the teachers were called to a meeting by the principal, who was identified only as Mr Dlamini.
The meeting lasted for about 30 minutes.

“After the meeting they all went into the classroom occupied by Form Fours. A body search was conducted on everyone. It was at that time that they started assaulting everyone,” the pupil said.
Adding he said the search was also conducted at the primary school, from Grade One until the last grade.

The pupil acknowledged that some of their colleagues were found to be in possession of contrabands such as dagga.
When asked why they were assaulted, one pupil responded: “Watsi lomunye thishela basi faka luvalo (one of the teachers told us that they were instilling fear).”
Most of the pupils said they did not report the matter to the police because they feared being victimised.


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