BIKITA: Tension permeated the atmosphere as Gwindingwi High School in Bikita West near the Duma location found itself at the center of a disturbing incident. Festos Masimba, a teacher at the school, faced a physical altercation with a form four pupil, Madziwe (not his real name: name withheld for ethical reasons) after the teacher attempted to enforce school rules. The incident occurred when Masimba caught Maziwe and three other boys smoking marijuana outside of their classrooms during lessons.
Masimba, who was on duty, approached the group to remind them of their obligation to be in class. While three of the boys complied, Madziwe defiantly refused and engaged in a physical confrontation with Masimba. During the altercation, Madziwe took hold of Masimba’s whip, striking the teacher on the right side of his face.
Reflecting on the incident, Masimba stated, “It happened shortly after lunch, around two o’clock when I was carrying out my duty to ensure all pupils were in their classrooms. I encountered the four boys sitting outside, smoking marijuana. I asked them to return to their classrooms, and three of them complied. However, Madziwe aggressively approached me, threateningly, before striking me. Instead of retaliating, I reported the incident to the school head, who advised me to involve the police.”
In the midst of Masimba’s attempt to seek justice, the local police at Nyika Base dismissed the case, leaving Madziwe unpunished. As a result, Madziwe continued to freely move around the school premises, while threatening other students who had reported his misconduct.
Disappointed with the police response, Masimba expressed his frustration, remarking, “The two policewomen failed to uphold the laws against violence. They claimed child protection laws as an excuse, ultimately neglecting their duty. I will seek the intervention of higher police authorities.”
Dereck Muzinda, the Head of Gwindingwi High, criticized the handling of the case and the police’s failure to ensure the safety of staff and students. Frustrated by the lack of progress, Muzinda sought assistance from higher police authorities to expedite the legal process.
“Unfortunately, our legal proceedings regarding the case were unsuccessful as the police seemed to neglect it, leaving it unresolved. Regrettably, we have not received any updates on the progress of the case. It was shocking to witness the victim wandering around the school premises, armed and ready to attack other students who had helped locate him for his misconduct,” he said.
In addition to this issue, Muzinda also expressed his concern about the unruly behavior of some Gwindingwi pupils. He noted that a number of learners have engaged in drug and substance abuse, leading to drastic changes in their behavior, which poses a threat to the school environment. Muzinda pointed out that the current education laws prohibit teachers from disciplining learners through physical punishment, and he identified this as a major contributing factor to misbehavior.
George Pasina, the School Senior Master, further explained the situation. “The school is situated near a Growth Point where drug dealing is prevalent. Unfortunately, learners easily fall into these harmful activities, resulting in their wild and disruptive behavior.”
In an interview with this reporter, James Mahofa, the Bikita District Schools Inspector, condemned such behavior, emphasizing that it is highly inappropriate, particularly in the teaching and learning environment.
“I advise school teachers to enforce discipline among the learners while adhering to the laws that govern the education system in Zimbabwe. I have noticed that the chief catalyst for these unruly behaviors is drug and substance abuse. Community members should take responsibility for counseling their children and instilling good behavior in every social setting to prevent the rise of violent cases. If such misconduct continues, there is a risk of a prevalence of even more severe incidents, such as murder,” he said.
Musafare Mahwite, the Assistant Police Dispo for Bikita District, said that he was unaware of such a report, “I have not come across any reports regarding the incitement of violence by learners at Gwindingwi High School.”
Advocate Honourable Taungana Ndoro, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, also addressed the issue.
“I strongly urge teachers and the School Development Committee to work together in shaping the behavior of pupils in both the community and school environment. Parents have a fundamental role in fostering and nurturing good behavior in their children, ensuring that they become respectful and avoid engaging in violent behavior.”
Ndoro also highlighted the importance of certain subjects like Guiding and Counseling, as well as Bible Knowledge, which have been recognized as effective tools in eradicating unacceptable behavior.