Friday, March 10, 2017


Children at a primary school in Swaziland have boycotted classes because they live in fear of the illegal corporal punishment they are made to suffer.

Local media report that children are hit with a stick, which in at least one case is said to have left a child ‘bleeding from the head’.

After years of physical abuse of children, corporal punishment in schools was abolished, but teachers across the kingdom still use it. 

The Swazi Observer reported on Monday (6 March 2017) that students boycotted classes at Masundvwini Primary School because they were scared of their teacher.

It reported that some parents, ‘have had their children come back from school with blood after being hit’ by the teacher. 

One parent was reported saying, ‘My daughter always comes home complaining of a headache. She finally told me that her teacher normally hits her in the head with a stick.’

The school said it would investigate the complaints.

There is a long history in Swaziland of the use by teachers of unusual forms of punishment in Swazi schools.

In August 2016, it was reported an eight-year-old schoolboy was thrashed so hard in class he vomited and it was feared he might have had internal bleeding as a result. His teacher at Siyendle Primary School, near Gege forced classmates to hold the boy down while he whipped him with a stick. 

In June 2016, a school principal was reported to police after allegedly giving a 20-year-old female student nine strokes of the cane on the buttocks at the Herefords High School. 

In September 2015, the Times of Swaziland reported a 17-year-old school pupil died after allegedly being beaten at school. The pupil reportedly had a seizure.

In March 2015, a primary school teacher at the Florence Christian Academy was charged with causing grievous bodily harm after allegedly giving 200 strokes of the cane to a 12-year-old pupil on her buttocks and all over her body.

In February 2015, the headteacher of Mayiwane High School Anderson Mkhonta reportedly admitted giving 15 strokes to a form 1 pupil for not wearing a neck tie properly.

In April 2015, parents reportedly complained to the Ndlalane Primary School after a teacher beat pupils for not following his instruction and shaving their hair. 

In October 2014, 20 pupils were thrashed before they sat an examination because they had been absent from school studying for the exam the previous day.

In October 2011, Save the Children told the United Nations Human Rights Periodic Review held in Geneva that corporal punishment in Swazi schools was out of control. It highlighted Mhlatane High School in northern Swaziland where it said pupils were ‘tortured’ in the name of punishment. It said, ‘Teachers can administer as many strokes [of the cane] as they desire, much against the limit stipulated in the regulations from the Ministry of Education.’ 

In a separate case, girls at Mpofu High School were flogged by teachers on their bare flesh and if they resisted they were chained down so the beating could continue. They said they got up to 40 strokes at a time.  

In another case, a 10-year-old girl at kaLanga Nazarene Primary school was blinded for life in her left eye after a splinter from a teacher’s stick flew and struck it during punishment. And, she was not the child being punished. She was injured when her teacher was hitting another pupil, with a stick which broke.  

Another pupil in Swaziland was thrashed so hard that he later collapsed unconscious and had to be rushed to a clinic. Six pupils at Mafucula High school were thrashed with 20 strokes of a ‘small log’ because they were singing in class. It was reported that the boy who became unconscious was not one of those misbehaving, but he was flogged nonetheless. 

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