Beaten school­boy ‘died of can­cer’

CityPress - - News - SIZWE SAMA YENDE sizwe.yende@city­

An Mpumalanga school prin­ci­pal, who is fac­ing dis­ci­plinary ac­tion for beat­ing a pupil who died this week­end, may es­cape a mur­der charge.

Sources close to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion told City Press that the post­mortem re­sults re­leased on Fri­day showed that pupil Siphamandla Choma (15) died from can­cer. Choma died last Sun­day at Mid­del­burg Hos­pi­tal.

Khutje Mseteka, prin­ci­pal of Manyano Pri­mary School in Mh­luzi near Mid­dle­burg, al­legedly beat Choma with a stick last June and knocked him off his feet, re­sult­ing in his fall­ing on his spine. Choma be­came paral­ysed af­ter the in­ci­dent and was wheel­chair-bound. Be­fore the as­sault, Choma and another pupil were ac­cused of steal­ing R150.

Mpumalanga po­lice spokesper­son Bri­gadier Leonard Hlathi de­clined to con­firm the post­mortem re­sults on Fri­day.

“We can­not com­mu­ni­cate the re­sults be­cause they form part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. There is an ini­tial case of as­sault that we are in­ves­ti­gat­ing. The post­mortem re­sults will be sub­mit­ted to the di­rec­tor of pub­lic pros­e­cu­tions to make a de­ci­sion on whether to pros­e­cute or not,” Hlathi said.

How­ever, the source who can­not be named be­cause he is not au­tho­rised to speak to the me­dia, said: “The boy died from can­cer … noth­ing re­lated to the beat­ing.”

This means Mseteka will only face mis­con­duct charges from the de­part­ment of ed­u­ca­tion and a lesser crim­i­nal charge of as­sault. Cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment is banned in schools and teach­ers ad­min­is­ter­ing it get charged in­ter­nally.

Mpumalanga ed­u­ca­tion spokesper­son Jasper Zwane said the first dis­ci­plinary tri­bunal ses­sion sat on March 17.

Zwane de­clined to re­veal if Mseteka had been pre­vi­ously charged with ad­min­is­ter­ing cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment.

“This process will pro­ceed un­til the de­part­ment re­ceives a judg­ment from the [dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee’s] chair­per­son. It is for this rea­son that we re­quest not to di­vulge more in­for­ma­tion about the prin­ci­pal since that may jeop­ar­dise the processes that are un­der way,” he said.

City Press re­quested com­ment from Mseteka, how­ever, his phone was off and he did not re­spond to mes­sages. Teach­ers and res­i­dents de­clined to speak to City Press. Zwane con­firmed his de­part­ment had re­ceived civil suit pa­pers from Choma’s fam­ily de­mand­ing R25 mil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion.

Boipelo Mabe

HOT SEAT Mpumalanga school prin­ci­pal Khutje Mseteka

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