13 Jun 2013 05:10
WINDHOEK, 13 JUN (NAMPA) ? Four teachers of the Windhoek Gymnasium private school found guilty of assault after corporal punishment was administered on a learner there in 2010, were sentenced to pay a fine of N.dollars 2 000 each on Thursday.
The foursome - Stephanus van Zyl, Etiene Odendaal, George Frederick Maartens and Estelle Oberholzer (ages not given) - were each sentenced to a fine of N.dollars 2 000 each, or one year?s imprisonment.
Windhoek Magistrate Helvi Kauna Shilemba meted out the punishment, shortly after she had found them guilty on charges of assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm in connection with corporal punishment administered to a learner at the private school between February and March 2010.
The four teachers were already making arrangements for the payment of the fines in order to avoid imprisonment when this Nampa reporter left the court building.
?After having perused the evidence presented by both the defence and prosecution in totality, I found that the State proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt that the four teachers had administered some beatings onto the learner's body.
Therefore, the court rejected the evidence of the four teachers, and in the result accepted the State's evidence,? Shilemba said in her verdict.
Advocate Raymond Heathcote, who represented the teachers, had asked the court to impose a fine of N.dollars 300, while Public Prosecutor Eric Naikaku proposed a fine in the amount of N.dollars 500.
The four were arrested by the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) after they beat a Grade 9 learner in 2010 with objects varying from blunt pieces of wood to blunt wooden sticks on his hands and backside.
Earlier reports by local English daily 'New Era' had it that the incident resulted in the boy's father removing his son from that school.
Last October during the trial, Heathcote applied for the discharge of his clients after the State closed its case.
However, Public Prosecutor Naikaku successfully opposed this discharge application on behalf of the State, and the accused persons were put on their defence.
According to Heathcote, the Namibian education laws make provision for a parent to chastise a child.
?The charges were laid against the four teachers by the disgruntled father, who himself is also a teacher who allegedly believes in corporal punishment, but disagreed with corporal punishment when it came too close to home,? Heathcote submitted during the trial.
He further argued that at the time, the father of the victim knew very well that the Windhoek Gymnasium private school is run on Christian principles, and that corporal punishment is an integral part of its code of conduct.
Heathcote also argued that Section 56 of the Namibian Education Act is not applicable to private schools, and that once a parent hands over a child to a teacher, the parent automatically delegates parental authority over the child to the teacher.
However, Naikaku disagreed, saying it would be a ?travesty of justice? if the four teachers were not made to answer for their actions.
Naikaku said the parents of the victim never gave consent to the school to administer corporal punishment on their son.