Teacher in trouble for fondling pupils

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A TEACHER at a school in Entumbane is facing possible re-arrest after Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Andrew Mutema declined to certify a $200 fine and 12 months suspended sentence he was handed by a Western Commonage magistrate for fondling three Grade 4 pupils.

REPORT BY STAFF REPORTER

The teacher, Ennos Sibanda (47), was on January 17 convicted for indecent assault by the magistrate Temba Chimiso who sentenced him to pay a $200 fine or face a one month jail term.

He also sentenced him to 12 months in prison, which was wholly suspended and the record was taken to the Bulawayo High Court for certification.
But Justice Mutema declined to certify the sentence, saying he was perturbed by the leniency considering the gravity of the offence.

In a letter filed at the Magistrates’ Court seen by Southern Eye on Wednesday, Justice Mutema said the trial magistrate did not observe seriousness of the offence in passing sentence.

“The accused was convicted of three counts of indecent assault following a full trial,” he said. “Accused is a teacher at a school (name supplied) in Entumbane.
“On January 9 this year he indecently assaulted three of his Grade 4 pupils, two of them aged nine and one aged eight by fondling their buttocks.”

Justice Mutema recommended that the accused should have been sentenced to at least a year in prison. He said the trial magistrate later conceded that the sentence was defective.

“It offends against all sense of justice,” Justice Mutema said. “If a school teacher who should act in loco-parentis indecently assaults his nine and eight year old pupils and is not incarcerated, but given a paltry fine even complemented with a one-year suspended term of jail, then God help our vulnerable daughters.”

He said Sibanda was not a fit and proper character to be a teacher entrusted with the welfare of children.

“He is simply a rogue who is in a wrong profession,” Justice Mutema said. “He deserves to be locked away for a reasonable period of time.”

The judge said the magistrate should have been aware of the factors that needed to be taken into account when sentencing such as a criminal and these included the age of the victims, extent of physical and psychological injury inflicted on them, age of accused and whether he was a parent, guardian or in position of authority over the victim.

“In his terse reason for sentence, the trial magistrate was blissfully ignorant of the above factors,” he said. “Accused said he is ill but did not state what he suffers from and the magistrate swallowed this hook, line and sinker without establishing what the ailment suffered entailed.”

Allegations against Sibanda were that on January 9 at 11 am he gave his class a Mathematics exercise and ordered the pupils to form two lines one for boys and another for girls, as he started marking their work.

When it was the turn of a first nine year-old girl, he placed his hand under her uniform and fondled her thighs and buttocks.
The girl later told her mother who reported to the deputy headmistress and the matter was reported to the police and he was ar
rested. It was then discovered that the teacher also fondled other two children on the same day.