Eyewitnesses tell of fateful day

MBOMBELA – They spoke about what happened at the time of her death. For fear of intimidation both witnesses requested to remain anonymous.

“I was in the same grade as Paballo and we were in class that day. She had done poorly in her grades. The teacher took her out of the class with a sjambok and we followed.

READ MORE HERE: No more cases of corporal punishment reported at Cefups Academy

“All the learners were standing around when she started hitting Paballo on her lower back, buttocks and upper legs. I remember seeing her bent over but she did not fall down. I don’t know how many times she hit her, I could not count, it was a lot. That was the last time I saw her. The next thing I heard, she died.”

A close friend of the victim said she spoke to her after the incident. Paballo told her that a female teacher had hit her.

READ MORE HERE: Mother of murdered learner still waiting for closure

“Then just after that, the grade 12 learners were all called in by the principal and told we were to be punished because of our low marks. We all got hit four to five times, including her. One of the boarding masters also hit Paballo.

“We had to study from 18:00 until 02:00. I remember her telling me she was feeling very cold. I fetched her a jacket. Earlier that day we had not eaten so we sneaked in a plate of rice and mince that we shared.”

The next morning Paballo could not get out of bed.

READ MORE HERE: Two appear in court for murder of Cefups Academy learner

“I called the team leader to speak to the matron as she was sick. “The matron told me that Paballo was faking her illness. By this time I was going to be late for class which would mean I would get beaten, so I asked the head girl to help and she agreed.”

When she returned after her classes, she found Paballo unable to walk.

“We tried to help her get to the toilet, but she nearly fell down. Her eyes were glazed and rolling backwards. Her nose and mouth were very dry. We managed to get her back on the bed.”

By this time the friend said the pupils were in a panic to get Paballo help.

“They kept telling us she is not sick and that she is faking it. Only after we harassed the principal for a couple of hours did we get help. We told him that she had defecated in her bed.”

When the ambulance arrived, the paramedics were not allowed into the boarding school dormitory.

“We carried her out to the ambulance on her mattress. Later that night she died in hospital.”

Afterwards the school reported to police that Paballo had ingested Savlon.

Lt Col Erhard Stroh said the police had sent all the witnesses’ statements and information through to the director of public prosecutions.

“Regarding a female teacher’s involvement, we urgently need any witnesses regarding her involvement to please come forward and make a police statement,” said Stroh.

Previous court records identified the suspects as Moisela Makafane (51) and Mjokhi J Dlamini (54). They faced various charges relating to murder in the Nelspruit Regional Court.

Lowvelder had received a copy of the autopsy performed on Paballo which stated that the cause of death was “acute kidney failure due to crush syndrome”. The report stated the autopsy findings were indicative of common assault by multiple-inflicted blunt force to the body. Her injuries are listed as including bruise marks on her left knee, tramline bruise marks on left and right buttocks and general bruising on both buttocks areas.

The newspaper asked Cefups Academy for comment. The school responded that it could not comment as the matter was still pending.

The National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Monica Nyuswa failed to comment regarding the matter.

Police requested anyone with further information to contact Stroh on

082-464-5721.

  AUTHOR
Tereasa Dias
Journalist

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