Beaten schoolboy ‘died of cancer’
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.
HOT SEAT Mpumalanga school principal Khutje Mseteka