Pupil paralysed during an alleged beating by principal dies

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Siphamandla Choma ‘s mother, Christina , said she had planned to take her son a cake in hospital for his birthday on Monday but found he had died the day before .

“I had bought him a red-and- white coffee mug as a birthday present. But he never got to use it. It is still wrapped,” Choma said.

Siphamandla died on Sunday – the day he turned 15. Choma said when she visited him at Middelburg Hospital – where he had been a patient for two months – he told her he was going to die and “the principal had ruined his life”.

“He told me he would no longer be here and that I should trust God. He said I should fight for him and for justice,” Choma said yesterday.

“That is what I am going to do for my son. The principal has deeply hurt me and my family. I will never forget.”

Siphamandla, a pupil at Manyano Primary School in Mhluzi in Middelburg, had not been back to school since the alleged assault in June last year.

He was allegedly beaten by the principal with a stick. He was allegedly knocked off his feet and hit the floor, cracking his spine.

He and another pupil had been accused of stealing R150 from a teacher’s handbag.

Yesterday, Mpumalanga education MEC Reginah Mhaule visited the Choma family.

Mhaule said the principal was on suspension and his disciplinary hearing had begun on March 17.

But Choma said she wanted the principal arrested.

“I have two other children at the school. The principal was seen at the school last week.

“I fear for my children’s lives. What if he hurts them?

“The principal never showed remorse and he never cared about my son. I want him arrested. I want justice and I will fight with all that I have.”

Siphamandla’s uncle, Johannes Choma, said the family would be suing for R25-million.

The spokesman for Mpumalanga police, Brigadier Leonard Hlathi, said yesterday the police had handed over the docket to a senior state prosecutor for a decision on whether to prosecute.

Hlathi said an inquest docket had been opened and a postmortem would be conducted.

“If the doctors say he died as a result of injuries sustained during the assault, it is very likely the charge will change from assault to murder,” Hlathi said.

Additional reporting Kyle Cowan

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