Father was ‘proud of Gymnasium’By: DENVER KISTING
LEON van Eck yesterday admitted that he was proud of Windhoek Gymnasium – after three of the five alleged assaults on his son.
During day two of cross-examination by defence lawyer Raymond Heathcote in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court, Van Eck said he regrets having written a letter to this effect to a school teacher on February 20 2010.
“It’s a pity I wrote it, because I am not proud anymore.” This came after Heathcote asked him how he could be proud of a school that assaulted his son.
Heathcote also told Van Eck that the only reason why the matter ended up in court is because an agreement between him and school principal Stephanus van Zyl was breached on March 15 “and you decided to teach them a lesson”.
On that day, George Frederick Maartens, another teacher, gave Van Eck’s son a hiding after he and four other boys forgot their physical education clothes at home and hid in the toilets.
This happened after Van Zyl had told Van Eck that his son would not be beaten again.
But, Heathcote said, Maartens was not present in the staff room when Van Zyl informed the teachers that the child should not be beaten again.
Apart from Van Zyl and Maartens, biology teacher Etienne Odendaal and science teacher Estelle Oberholzer face a charge of common assault before Magistrate Helvi Shilemba.
Oberholzer, the court was told, has been administering corporal punishment for at least 22 years. Regarding this, Heathcote told Van Eck that not a single parent except he had pressed criminal charges against her for “she always did it moderately”.
Van Eck’s response was: “How can you hit someone moderately?”
The court further heard that Van Eck wrote a letter to Van Zyl on February 22 in which he said that he and his wife, Elke, do not interfere with the school’s disciplinary policy. Van Eck maintained that he was not aware of it that the school administers corporal punishment when he enrolled his son in 2009.
Heathcote told him that he could not have been in the dark about it, as teachers introduce themselves at the start of an academic year and from the podium declare that they spank children.
Van Eck admitted that he attended such an opening at the start of 2009 but said he did not hear anything about corporal punishment. Had he heard it, he would have thought that it was a joke, he said.
When Heathcote asked Van Eck whether he had “a particular hearing problem” as there was a sound system, Van Eck said: “I’m a little but deaf but not with a sound system.”
At the start of the trial on Monday, the four teachers all pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Heathcote will continue his cross-examination of Van Eck today. He is assisted by Beatrix van der Merwe on instruction of Ben van der Merwe.
Public Prosecutor Erich Naikaku represents the State.