Boy in spanking case battles to rememberBy: DENVER KISTING
THE former Windhoek Gymnasium pupil whose parents are accusing the school’s teachers of assault was allegedly coached by his parents not to admit logical conclusions and remember selectively.
This attack came from Raymond Heathcote, acting on behalf of the four teachers in the dock for alleged common assault: Stephanus van Zyl, Etienne Odendaal, George Frederick Maartens and Estelle Oberholzer.
Heathcote made the allegation on Friday after the 17-year-old boy mostly responded, “I can’t remember,” to the lawyer’s questions. He told Magistrate Helvi Shilemba that he will argue that, “this witness was schooled by the dad.”
Heathcote further said that the boy’s reliance on the school’s rules and regulations book, “is a recently invented story”, because the book never featured in the boy’s statement to the Police about the five beatings.
Amongst others, the boy battled to remember whether he was taken to a doctor on the same day in 2010 that Maartens beat him after he left his physical education clothes at home and hid in the school’s toilet. He could also not remember what medical treatment he received.
The boy maintained throughout Heathcote’s cross-examination that it states, “nowhere in the book that you will get beaten when you don’t do well in a test”.
He said that he could equally not remember that he was informed at the start of the 2010 academic year that Oberholzer would administer corporal punishment if they do not achieve full marks in her five-minute physics tests. “There is nothing like that written in the rules and regulations book”, the lawyer said.
When Heathcote asked him whether he could remember that Oberholzer asked them to inform their parents that they would receive one beating per mistake, the boy asked: “But is it legal to beat?”
The boy could not remember which parent accompanied him to the Police, what they took with them and what questions the Police asked them.
Questioning the boy about the rules and regulations book, Heathcote asked him whether there are rules against urinating and defecating on the school premises. The boy said no, after which Heathcote wanted to know whether he would then do it. “No, because there are toilets,” the boy answered.
Asked why he never told his parents that another teacher allegedly beat him with a cricket bat in 2009, the boy asked: “Why did that teacher not inform my parents? I’m very busy in the afternoons, so maybe I didn’t have time to tell them. Then I was only 13 and I don’t know what happened exactly.” This teacher was not charged.
The boy further told Heathcote that when he misbehaves at home, he either gets grounded or his father speaks to him.
On Thursday, the boy said he hid in the toilet before being beaten by Maartens because he was scared to be beaten again.
His father testified from Monday to Wednesday.
Heathcote is assisted by Beatrix van der Merwe on instruction of Ben van der Merwe.
Public Prosecutor Eric Naikaku represents the State.
On Friday afternoon, the trial was postponed to August 16. The boy is still under cross-examination.