Bullying is a form of ill-treatment that is perpetrated by a senior towards a minor. The incident, which usually takes place when a child is at school, has taken centre stage in different High Schools in Zimbabwe. The first term of every year usually records the highest rate of bullying in most schools as new students, Form Ones and Lower Six enroll at different schools. Bullying incidents are also high during the third term when Form 4 and 6 students write their final Zimsec Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations.

The victim of the bullying reports the matter to the teacher-in-charge and headmaster who in turn can choose to report the matter to the police or deal with it internally. Bullies can either be expelled or punished.

Causes

A 2017 study by Kudenga Mugove a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the Zimbabwe Open University identified the main causes of bullying in boarding schools were lack of school rules and implementation of rules that deter bullying, influence of movies and films that show bullies as heroes watched by boarding school children, home background that encouraged bullying as a way of solving problems or did not discourage bullying, influence of peers who considered perpetrators of bullying behaviours as heroes and attention seeking behaviours of bullies.

The research participants were pupils in boarding schools in Zimbabwe and members of schools disciplinary committees. The sample of research participants consisted of twelve members of school disciplinary committees and forty children in boarding schools. [1]

Incidents of bullying

Churchill Boys High / Churchill High School 2020

In December 2020, Churchill High School called in the police to investigate a case of bullying. The cyberbullying case reportedly took place at the school on Tuesday 1 December 2020 and involved Form 4 and 6 pupils.

Churchill headmaster Patson Mugwanda downplayed the reports saying it is normal for outgoing pupils to misbehave at the end of the year. He said:

“We received a report of a Form 3 student who had a misunderstanding with another student and one of the three students involved recorded one of the pupils saying he was after the other student’s blood. The audio, upon reaching his parents, disturbed them and they took the matter to Rhodesville police station and two officers came and we discussed the matter. Upon thorough investigations it turned out to be a hoax. One of the alleged victim’s friend was the one who recorded the audio following a challenging statement reported to have been uttered by the alleged cyber bullying victim to a Form 4 student. The alleged victim is big bodied and is a Taikondo player so he was making fun of challenging his seniors and this is how it started. We involved our school disciplinary members and the alleged victim apologised for breaking rule number seven of the school rules that guides our students. We discussed the issue together with the parents and two police officers and I am sure they are continuing with investigations."

Mugwanda denied allegations that some senior students might be bullying juniors.[2]

Prince Edward School

  • 2019

In November 2019, a video showing a senior student beating up a junior at Prince Edward High School surfaced online. The video showed the junior student being beaten whilst other students exhorted him to hit back at his assailant. The junior student eventually hit his assailant back

Prince Edward headmaster Agrippa Sora confirmed the incident and said action was being taken to deal with the culprit. He stated,

"The school does not condone such behaviour, no boy should touch another boy and disciplinary hearing is in progress."

[3]

H-Metro spoke to a pupil who said he was at the scene when the fighting was taking place on the school grounds. The pupil said the older pupil beat the junior pupil because he was avenging his younger brother who had been beaten earlier. The pupil said:

“What actually happened is that the form four boy in a white shirt got furious after his younger brother was beaten up and he confronted the junior leading to the fight. The fight went on and we could not get them apart as they equally exchanged serious blows but bullying is real here."

As a result of the video, the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Cain Mathema implored schools to set up anti-bullying campaigns and mechanism. He said:

“No to bullying in schools, nobody in Zimbabwe should be bullied whatsoever. Teachers and school heads must set an example making sure that this does not go unpunished. No one can live alone, we appeal to communities, schools and everyone involved so we can fight this behaviour.”

[4]

  • 2011

In February 2011, six pupils were arrested for allegedly battering and seriously injuring a boy for wearing sunglasses during sporting activities at the school. The alleged victim reportedly lost three teeth in the attack. The six, aged between 16 and 17 years, appeared in court on assault charges.

The assault case came barely a week after a prefect, Mike Manga, was arrested and appeared in court for battering Bruce Nyatanga, son to Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association leader Eddie Nyatanga. Manga then aged 18, broke Bruce’s finger and was charged with assault.[5]


  • 2012

In 2012, the body of a 13-year-old boy identified as form one pupil Munashe Banda was found floating in a swimming pool at Prince Edward School in Harare with suspicions that he was beaten to death before being thrown into the pool to hide the murder.[6]

The police were called in to investigate the matter after the doctor who conducted an autopsy raised the alarm.

One of Munashe's relatives Andrew Rwasunda, said they suspected foul play and bullying. He said:

“We don’t think he drowned, but we suspected from the injuries he had on his body that he was assaulted before being thrown into the pool. Bullying in schools need to be eradicated and the Ministry of Education (Sport, Arts and Culture) should be at the forefront in ensuring that it is completely eradicated. Too many children have suffered from bullying.”

Prince Edward headmaster Mr Aggrippa Sora, who attended Munashe's burial, described Munashe’s death as tragic. However, he said the school had a child-friendly environment. He said:

“We always preach of a child-friendly school and Prince Edward advocates for a child-friendly environment. Prince Edward is one such school with such an environment.”

[5]

In 2013, NewsDay reported that police were still carrying out investigations into the death of Banda.[7]

Chinhoyi High School

At Chinhoyi High School in 2013, there were also reports of alleged bullying. Tatenda Christian Rusere, who was the school head boy-cum-child president, was accused of subjecting Form 1 students to four hours of corporal punishment during their induction.[8]

Waddilove High School

In January 2021, a video surfaced online of two students assaulting another student for not wearing a mask at Waddilove High School. The victim was identified as Michael.

The mother of the victim who was identified as Emelda Munjanja said the bullies and their parents could not be found when ZRP looked for them but surfaced hours later offering her money. She also said the boys were fighting over a girl. She said the bullies' parents offered her US$100. The bullies named Cosmas and Savania, were suspended but were allowed to continue writing their exams.[9]

Mutero High School

Three students from Mutero High School in Gutu, Masvingo Province received three months wholly suspended jail sentences for bullying. The three, Stewart Mazuru (20), Tapiwa Gijima (18) and a minor (17) appeared before Gutu magistrate Mandlenkosi Ndlovu on 18 December 2020.

On 12 December 2020, the trio allegedly took the victim to the school dam, accusing him of stealing Mazuru’s mobile phone. They assaulted the victim for three hours while at the same time pushing him into the water. They only stopped bullying the other student after the lunch bell rang.[10]

See High Schools Of Zimbabwe.

References

  1. Causes of Bullying in Boarding High Schools in Zimbabwe, International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, Volume 7, Issue 12, December 2017, Published: December 2017, Retrieved: April 26, 2021
  2. Arron Nyamayaro, CHURCHILL IN BULLYING SCANDAL, H-Metro, Published: December 4, 2020, Retrieved: April 26, 2021
  3. Shocking: Bullying at Prince Edward school exposed., Youth Village, Published: November 2019, Retrieved: April 26, 2021
  4. Desmond Munemo, PE bullying video causes stir, H-Metro, Published: November 13, 2019, Retrieved: April 26, 2021
  5. 5.0 5.1 Schoolboy’s death: Cops interview PE pupils, The Herald, Published: October 28, 2012, Retrieved: April 26, 2021
  6. PHYLLIS MBANJE, School bullying mirrors broken society, NewsDay, Published: January 18, 2021, Retrieved: April 26, 2021
  7. Kupakwashe Makonye, Student collapses at training, dies, NewsDay, Published: January 14, 2013, Retrieved: April 26, 2021
  8. WINSTONE ANTONIO, Teens speak out on bullying, NewsDay, Published: January 19, 2013, Retrieved: April 26, 2021
  9. Desmond Munemo, PUPIL BASHED OVER MASK, H-Metro, Published: January 11, 2021, Retrieved: April 26, 2021
  10. SIMBARASHE MTEMBO, Mutero High pupils jailed 3 months for bullying, Masvingo Mirror, Published: December 23, 2020, Retrieved: April 26, 2021