Headmistress beats pupil to death

dn-punishment-Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter
Beating up a pupil for misbehaving in class proved costly to a headmistress after the victim collapsed and died during the punishment. Modester Rubhabha (43), who is the acting headmistress of Domboramwari High School in Epworth, is now being charged with murder. Rubhabha of 30 Begamont Crescent, Msasa is said to have severely assaulted the now deceased well knowing that he had a heart problem.

The pupil collapsed in the classroom and died three hours later. The school head was yesterday brought to court before magistrate Mr Milton Serima.

She was not asked to plead to the murder charge.

Mr Serima granted her $100 bail with the State’s consent, coupled with some conditions.

As part of her bail conditions, Rubhabha was ordered to report once a week to the police, not to interfere with witnesses and to reside at her given address until the matter is finalised.

Appearing for the State, Miss Sharon Mashavira alleges that on February 2 the now deceased attended a commerce lesson which was being taught by a new teacher at the school.

It is the State’s case that the teacher later reported to Rubhabha that the pupil was misbehaving.

Rubhabha went to the classroom and called the now deceased. She is said to have severely assaulted him with a stick on the buttocks, the State alleged. Due to the assault, the deceased, who had a heart problem, collapsed in the classroom and according to the State, Rubhabha did not take the pupil to the hospital immediately for medical help.

When he was finally taken to the hospital, the pupil was pronounced dead.

The High Court recently ruled that corporal punishment was unconstitutional and has no place in the country’s statutes because it is inhuman and degrading.

Justice Esther Muremba said internationally, corporal punishment was regarded as violence against children.

Justice Muremba said this following an appeal by a 15-year-old boy who had been sentenced to receive moderate corporal punishment of three strokes with a rattan cane by a magistrate, but appealed against the sentence at the High Court.

The punishment, she said, was considered inhuman and degrading as it violated children’s physical integrity and demonstrated disrespect for human dignity and undermines the self-esteem of children.

Justice Muremba said her interpretation of Section 53 and 86 of the new Constitution brought her to the conclusion that corporal punishment is now unconstitutional.

She said the new Constitution outlawed torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Justice Muremba said it was clear that the way the new Constitution is worded on the right to protection from inhuman treatment is different from the way the wording is put across under the old Constitution.

“If the legislature had intended corporal punishment to remain as part of our law it would have limited the right by categorically stating that moderate punishment inflicted in execution of the judgment or order of a court shall not be in contravention of that right as was the case under the old Constitution,” she said.

“My interpretation of sections 53 and 86 of the new Constitution brings me to the conclusion that corporal punishment is now unconstitutional.”

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