Principal and guard charged with murder

Paballo Seanne was apparently beaten for getting low marks in an exam. The school has been banned from using corporal punishment.
Paballo Seanne was apparently beaten for getting low marks in an exam. The school has been banned from using corporal punishment.

A headmaster and security guard have been charged with murder and 25 counts of
assault following the death of a 19-year-old student four years ago.

Paballo Seanne died in hospital in 2014 after she was assaulted at Cefups Academy in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said the two appeared in the Nelspruit Magistrate's Court last week on charges of murder, assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm and 24 counts of common assault.

Mpumalanga NPA spokeswoman Monica Nyuswa said the case against headmaster Moisela Makofane and security officer Mjokhi Jaconia Dlamini was postponed to August 22 for further investigation.

She said the third suspect in the case was the late founder of the upmarket boarding school, Simon Mkhatshwa, who died last year and the prosecution closed the case against him.

Today marks four years exactly since the death of Seanne, who was a Grade 12 pupil, and her family believes justice is being denied due to incompetence.

She was allegedly beaten for getting low marks in mid-year exams in July 2014.

Her brother, Seane Seanne, told Sowetan yesterday his family was not happy with the way the case was being handled and accused police and the prosecution of incompetence.

"First, the doctor in the hospital where my sister died said she came with bruises, which we all saw. But the police at the time did not charge these people at least with assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Instead, they opened an inquest," he said.

"After the postmortem results, the case was struck off the roll two times because the investigating officer and the prosecutor were not doing their work well."

He said the family had not found closure.

"Tomorrow [today] marks four years since our sister was killed but there has been no justice. This case should have been finished long time ago for us to also find closure. We still want justice to her," Seanne said.

When Paballo, who was former deputy minister of arts and culture Joyce Mabudafhasi's niece, died, the school reportedly claimed she had drunk an antiseptic, which had led to her death.

However, the family said doctors had told them that the antiseptic could not have killed her and suspected she had been beaten as she had been admitted to hospital with bruises all over her body.

Police referred all queries to the NPA.

Nyuswa said she could not comment on the family's allegations as she was unable to get hold of one of the prosecutors.

According to students who attended the school in 2014, all children who got low marks in their mid-year exams were assaulted, including Seanne.

A former learner, Nothando Kenny, who was a head girl, told Sowetan that even the children were also taught to beat others.

"I was a head girl in that school," she said.

"When you are a head girl or boy you are taught how to beat others when they have broken the law. If you fail to beat them, you take their beating."

Provincial education department spokesman Jasper Zwane said they had instituted an investigation following the death of the girl and found that corporal punishment was being practiced at the school.

However, an attempt to close the school by the department failed after the school contested it in the high court.

"After setting aside the department's intention to close the school, the court gave an order that the school must not practise corporal punishment. It also suggested that we provide a complaint box to the school so that children could put their complaints in it but we have not got punishment complaints yet," Zwane said.

A lady at the school who identified herself as S Mkhatshwa, said the school could not comment because the case was in court.

She also denied that corporal punishment was practised at the school.

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