By Itai Muzondo
Mapanza police base officers near Nandi Sugar Estate in Chiredzi allegedly assaulted and injured 21 Nandi Primary School pupils on Thursday over allegations of theft of sugar cane from war veterans who occupied the area under the land programme.
A Nandi resident, Norman Nyathi, told Tell Zimbabwe that war veterans who reside in the area invaded the school during learning hours with a list of pupils who were reportedly stealing sugar cane from their plantations. The pupils were escorted by the police to Mapanza police base where they were assaulted and suffered from grievous bodily harm. The children were taken to Chiredzi General Hospital where they are receiving treatment for the injuries sustained from the assault.
“It is inhuman when primary school pupils are assaulted and seriously injured by law enforcement agents. War veterans went to the school during learning hours with a list of children who were allegedly stealing sugar cane from their plantations. These were taken under police escort to the police base where they were later assaulted and seriously injured,” said Nyathi.
Masvingo Provincial Education Director, Zedius Chitiga, said he was not aware of the incident. He however condemned the wanton attack of school pupils and explained that he knew that anyone can enjoy sugar cane in the plantations as long as they do not carry any away.
“This is a quite worrisome situation. I am, however, surprised as I believe residents of sugar estates are allowed to enjoy anytime as long as they do not take any sugar cane away.
“I urge locals to chastise their children if they act in an unacceptable manner rather than resort to corporal punishment up to the extent that they are hospitalised,” said Chitiga.
Tell Zimbabwe could not get official comment from the police by the time of publication.
A research by the National Centre for Victims of Crime revealed that assault cases on children stand at 41% showing that it is less prevalent as compared to sexual abuse in Zimbabwe.local