abuse claims at 'school of hell'
AT LEAST three girls have laid charges of assault against the controversial owner of the Nelspruit campus of Cefups Academy Simon Mkhantswa.
One of the girls, a head girl at the school, is in a serious condition in hospital after she allegedly took an overdose of pills in an attempt to get attention.
She opted for the pills after becoming tired of what she termed "abuse at its worst", allegedly by Mkhantswa.
The girl, 19-year-old Lizelle Macedo from Mbabane in Swaziland, accused Mkhantswa of using a sjambok and fists to discipline pupils.
On Tuesday morning Macedo swallowed pills that her doctor had given her for a severe headache.
This was after Mkhantswa had allegedly assaulted her and others with a sjambok as well as kicking them for not disclosing a planned strike by a student committee.
Macedo and the other girls were allegedly forced to attend a long meeting that lasted until 1am.
Macedo said the late-night meetings usually took place at least three times a week, making it impossible for the pupils to concentrate on their studies the following day.
Speaking from her bed at Rob Ferreira Hospital yesterday, she said: "I decided to swallow all the pills to get attention because I'm not the only one who is in trouble with this old man at that school of hell."
But her mother, Thandi Mtshali, said no one had told her that her daughter had been admitted to hospital.
"I came to South Africa to see my daughter but did not have any idea that the school owner had assaulted her and that she was in hospital," Mtshali said.
On her way to the school, Mtshali said she stumbled upon Zandile Nkambule, a neighbour from Swaziland.
"This child is my neighbour in Swaziland and my daughter's schoolmate.
"I could not believe my eyes when I saw her wandering the streets, claiming she had been booted out of school after complaining about abuse," Mtshali said.
A receptionist at the school, who identified herself only as Sthembile, claimed she was not present when the alleged abuse happened.
Superintendent Abie Khoabane confirmed that charges of assault had been laid against Mkhantswa.
The late Hlatikhulu Ngobeni once laid charges against Mkhantswa after the latter allegedly assaulted Ngobeni's sons at the school's KaBokweni campus, but the case was dropped due to lack of evidence.
Mpumalanga education spokesperson Jasper Zwane said yesterday the department was not aware of the latest allegations.