Swaziland
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SCHOOL AUTHORITIES WHIP CIVIL SERVANT FOR SEX WITH PUPIL

MBABANE – Corporal punishment or prison term?

This is a question a civil servant *Jomo is alleged to have been asked for allegedly being in a sexual relationship with a pupil from a school in the Hhohho Region. The name of the school will not be mentioned as the head teacher expressed concern that this could affect the concerned learner as she could be victimised. It is alleged that relationships between adults and pupils at the school are very common. This is said to be blamed on the school’s location in, relation to the town centre and also government buildings.

The school is said to be situated near houses used by civil servants, and that concerns are said to have been raised by the school that ‘older men’ were taking advantage of pupils, who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. It is alleged that recently, Jomo was caught to have been in a relationship with a pupil and was reported to the school, allegedly by a relative of the pupil. The said civil servant is said to have been called to the school to answer to allegations that he was allegedly dating the pupil. It is alleged that he was told that dating a pupil was an offence and that he could be arrested for it. Fearing the arrest, the civil servant is said to have opted to be whipped instead and vowed not to ever be involved with a pupil.

Disciplinary

“He was whipped on a bench,” an official who asked not to be mentioned confirmed. The alleged whipping is said to have been done by the school’s disciplinary committee (DC). However, it is alleged that despite serving the punishment, the civil servant is said to be ‘hounded’ by some teachers, who are said to have demanded money or  they would report him to the police. It is also alleged that the teacher then reported the matter to the anti Domestic Violence and Children’s Welfare Unit of the police. The civil servant is also said to have expressed concerns on why he was punished yet the pupil was older than 18 years and, therefore, consented .

Relatives to the pupil are also said to have been involved in the matter and they were also asked about what should be done to the civil servant. It is alleged that the civil servant was warned that should the matter be reported to the police, he could be locked up and charged under the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence (SODV) Act No. 15 of 2018. It is alleged Jomo was then asked what he would choose between being whipped or being reported to the police. Jomo is said to have been warned about the consequences of being arrested and that should this be the case, he would end up losing his job. The civil servant is said to have opted to be whipped with a stick properly prepared for pupils’ corporal punishment.

It was also gathered that this was not the only incident in which a man was punished for allegedly dating pupils at the school. This publication gathered that in a separate incident, another man was also punished for allegedly dating a pupil, and he, *Jack, was also summoned to the school after he was found to be dating a pupil.

Pleaded

Jack is alleged to have also pleaded for leniency and asked not to be reported to the police. It is alleged that instead of being reported to the police, he was asked to clean the school hall. Both Jack and Jomo could not be reached for comment on the matter. Meanwhile, it is not the first time the Times of Eswatini had reported on a situation where men accused of dating pupils were punished at a school instead of being reported to the police. In the past, a now deceased former head teacher of Mhlatane High School is also said to have ensured that men found guilty of dating pupils were offered either to be whipped or handed over to the police.

All the culprits opted to be whipped instead.  This publication also previously reported an incident at Timpisini High School, where two men, including a civil servant, were offered to be either whipped or reported to the police. The men were allegedly whipped and released. According to information sourced online, whipping is an acceptable form of punishment administered by courts. Whipping is also referred to as caning or corporal punishment. This is said to be practised in some African countries mainly in the north but also Botswana and Tanzania. It is also said to be practised for juvenile offenders in Eswatini and Zimbabwe.