Beaten pupil was MP’S niece

CityPress - - News - SIZWE SAMA YENDE sizwe.yende@city­press.co.za

The ma­tric girl al­legedly beaten to death at a con­tro­ver­sial Mpumalanga pri­vate school was the niece of Arts and Cul­ture Deputy Min­is­ter Re­joice Mabudafhasi. Now par­ents who have pre­vi­ously com­plained about Ce­fups Academy to the pro­vin­cial ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment say Paballo Seane’s death is only be­ing in­ves­ti­gated be­cause her aunt is a politi­cian.

Mabudafhasi told City Press her fam­ily was dev­as­tated. She and other rel­a­tives went to Mpumalanga af­ter her 19-year-old niece died ear­lier this month.

Last week, City Press re­ported that Seane was in trou­ble at school af­ter per­form­ing badly in a test. She died at the Nel­spruit Medi­clinic on Au­gust 7.

“We’re hurt and it’s very dif­fi­cult to get over this. She didn’t get sick and the next thing we hear, she’s dead,” Mabudafhasi said. “We’ll wait for the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion to be com­pleted to get what hap­pened.”

A nurse who treated Seane says she was so badly in­jured that “there was no place on her body to in­ject her with painkillers”.

The nurse – who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity – said Seane kept re­peat­ing the words “please help me” in the emer­gency room and died be­fore she could be taken to the ICU.

Af­ter Seane’s death, the ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment ap­pointed a task team to in­ves­ti­gate her death and gave the school 30 days to ex­plain why it should stay open.

While many par­ents and past pupils have wel­comed the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, oth­ers are un­happy, say­ing the depart­ment never took their com­plaints se­ri­ously. Three par­ents claimed they ap­proached the depart­ment af­ter their chil­dren were al­legedly as­saulted by Ce­fups staff. No ac­tion was taken then, but now the task team look­ing into Seane’s death has ap­proached them for de­tails.

“I com­plained to the depart­ment and the po­lice when my child was as­saulted, but noth­ing was done. They came to us be­cause a deputy min­is­ter’s fam­ily is af­fected. That’s un­fair,” said a mother, who de­clined to be iden­ti­fied.

She re­moved her son from Ce­fups af­ter he was se­verely sjam­bokked, al­legedly by board­ing masters, and had to be treated at the Nel­spruit Medi­clinic.

“We hear the MEC [for ed­u­ca­tion Regi­nah Mhaule] even ac­com­pa­nied the [task] team to the school. This is a first ... They never both­ered be­fore,” she said.

An­other par­ent, Zandile Mthethwa, said: “When we re­ported Ce­fups, the depart­ment said it couldn’t en­ter­tain a case against a pri­vate school. This means our chil­dren are an­i­mals.”

Mthethwa’s grand­child Nothando Kenny, a for­mer head girl, and her four cousins were beaten last year, al­legedly by three Ce­fups board­ing masters, dur­ing a beauty pageant and had to be hos­pi­talised.

“An of­fi­cial phoned me [af­ter Seane’s death] to get de­tails about the as­sault on my chil­dren, but she then did not hon­our a face-to-face meet­ing she re­quested,” Mthethwa said. Gertrude Chawane’s son Steve suf­fered a bro­ken knee af­ter an al­leged as­sault, which she said she re­ported to the depart­ment’s Eh­lanzeni district of­fice, but it wasn’t in­ves­ti­gated.

“I’m happy they’re now act­ing, ir­re­spec­tive of what forced them to do so. I hope Ce­fups will be closed down,” Chawane said.

Pro­vin­cial ed­u­ca­tion spokesper­son Jasper Zwane de­clined to an­swer ques­tions about the par­ents’ al­le­ga­tions.

“Our re­quest is that we should be more sen­si­tive, show em­pa­thy and al­low due pro­cesses to take place,” Zwane said.

He did say that the school had been in­ves­ti­gated be­fore – in May 2009 – and that its man­age­ment was or­dered to stop beat­ing chil­dren. He re­fused to pro­vide de­tails.

Ce­fups pres­i­dent Si­mon Mkhatshwa has re­peat­edly re­fused to com­ment and did not re­spond to re­quests for his spokesper­son’s de­tails.

GRIEV­ING Arts and Cul­ture Deputy Min­is­ter Re­joice Mabudafhasi

BEATEN TO

DEATH Paballo Seane

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