Deceased student’s kin sue ministry, school


30 strokes he received on his buttocks affected his genitals


MASERU – The Ministry of Education together with Likuena High School are due in court to defend corporal punishment claim against one of their employee.

This follows collapse of a mediation process aimed at resolving a claim instituted against the parties almost four years ago. The claim is in relation to the alleged corporal punishment imposed on a student who later died as a result of the punishment.

However, the mediation failed to materialize over some of the parties’ failure to honor mediation dates. The complainants are now pushing for their case’s enrollment before a judge.

Jonathane Thoahlane, a teacher at Likuena is said to have imposed corporal punishment to a group of students sometime in 2017, one of the students, Ntsau Tanki became severely ill after the incidence and met his death within a week. It is alleged that Tanki died as a result of the injury sustained during the beating.

His guardian, ‘Malehloa Ntsau is demanding M800 000 in compensation from the school and the ministry for the loss of her son. She has cited Likuena High School, the school’s board (Likuena High School board), Jonathane Thoahloane the Ministry of Education and Attorney General as 1st to the 5th defendants.

According to court papers, Tanki’s situation worsened within a very short period and a surgery was recommended as result. The surgery was done at Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital (Tšepong) but he died on May 24, 2017, approximately eight days after he was punished.

It is alleged that one of the 30 strokes he received on his buttocks affected his genitals.

“The 3rd defendant gave the deceased approximately thirty strokes on his buttocks and in the process of the whipping, the deceased’s genitals sustained an impact from one of the strokes,” court paper read.

The papers further state that the guardian later received a phone call informing her that her child was sick, “the deceased genitals were swollen and his belly had gotten bigger.”

Ntsau tells the court that “upon treatment by the medical practitioner, there was no improvement in the condition” and thereby took the deceased to Ntšekhe Clinic on Monday 22nd May 2017. The official diagnosis she says was that the swelling was a result of a direct impact to the genitals and that a surgery was immediately recommended.

While the surgery was done, the student met his death on May 24, 2017.

Ntsau says she has suffered an emotional shock and got severely depressed as the result of her son’s death. She contends that she incurred great expenses in the treatment of her deceased child including the funeral preparation. She is demanding compensation in that regard.

“The plaintiff claims judgement against the defendants in the terms: payment of Three Hundred Thousand Maloti as compensation for pain and suffering, payment of Five Hundred Thousand Maloti as damages for loss of support, payment of Forty-Five Thousand Maloti as funeral costs and payment of three hundred and seventy-five as medical expenses…” read the papers in part.

Before mediation dates were set, Thoahlane requested further particulars of the incident to enable him to plead. He asked whether the corporal punishment was administered only to the late student, how the surgery to save him was unsuccessful and how the strokes on his buttocks are related to the genitals.

He also requested proof that the guardian suffered emotional shock and depression as alleged in her papers to which Ntsau responded that “procedurally, the plaintiff ought not to plead evidence in her particulars of claim. The plaintiff shall disclose documentary evidence during discovery and even viva voce evidence in trial to prove the allegations contained in the particulars of the claim.

On whether the corporal punishment was only administered to the late Tanki, Ntsau said what is relevant is the fact that the teacher unlawfully imposed corporal punishment on the deceased and that it led to his death.

No Lesotho law explicitly prohibits corporal punishment but it’s almost a norm to smack school kids, not with the intention to hurt but to reprimand. This is despite the fact that 30 years ago, world leaders, Lesotho included adopted United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – an international agreement on the treatment of children.

The convention has become the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history and has helped transform children’s lives around the world.

The convention among others advocate for abolishment of all forms of corporal punishment and among the 194 countries that have ratified the it, 42 countries prohibit all forms of corporal punishment compared to only four in 1989 when the convention was adopted. Lesotho signed the treaty on the August 21, 1990.

In this present case, the school and its board denies the incidence in their court papers saying if the teacher did administer the corporal punishment, he was acting outside the scope of his job and are, therefore, not liable for his actions.

“He was clearly on frolic of his own.”

The school also argues that Ntsau inflated damages she is seeking saying pain and suffering as well as loss of support do not arise as the late student was neither working nor supporting his guardian.

For his part, Thoahlane in his plea said he knew about the student’s medical condition that involved bowel complications. He maintains that the student’s swelling was not the result of the corporal punishment but that the teaching staff knew about the student’s medical condition which involved bowel complications.

“…Plaintiff is, therefore, put to proof the nexus between the whipping and the swelling of the deceased genitals.”

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