In October, 2013 YONECO’s Tithandizane Helpline received an anonymous tip off from a concerned community member that Brian Mbuzi (Not Real Name) aged 12 years was beaten by his religious teacher Mr. Benson (Not Real Name) who teaches Madras at one of the Islamic Mosques in Zomba. Following the receipt of the case, the Helpline team followed up
the case and managed to talk to Mr. Joseph Mbuzi (Not Real Name) who is the father of Brian. Further probing revealed that Brian was indeed physically assaulted by the teacher and Mr. Mbuzi actually works at the same campus and was only informed about the incident by the Principal when he was being given MK3000.00 to go to a private clinic with the child.
In addition to this, the Principal did not tell Mr. Mbuzi about what happened to his son but instructed him to take Brian to hospital. When the boy was asked about what happened, he said that Mr Benson had chastised him for failing to read the Quran.
“The teacher had to beat me because I was failing to read the Quran and it is his habit of beating each and every child who fails to read,” said Brian.
Mr. Mbuzi highlighted that there have been numerous complaints lodged by concerned parents against the conduct of the teacher towards the pupils. Deliberate efforts were committed to consult the Police on the way forward which led to the collection of the medical report from the Private Clinic and endorsement at Zomba Central Hospital. As a result, the case was filed with the Zomba Police for investigations.
It is against this backdrop that officials from Tithandizane Helpline had a discussion with the Principal of Madrass, the teacher, Brian and Mr. Mbuzi at Zomba Police Victim Support Unit. The Zomba Police Community Policing Coordinator informed the Principal of Madrass and Mr. Benson that any form of corporal punishment is an offence and punishable by the law.
In his defence, Mr. Benson claimed that it was just a mistake that Brian was hit and he further stated that it was a ruler and not a stick. The teacher then promised that he will not do such a thing again. The meeting was rescheduled to a later date so as to sensitize Madras Teachers on issues pertaining to corporal punishment and the law.