A War veteran from Mashonaland Central Province who went berserk late last year and savagely assaulted 116 pupils at a local primary school for alleged indiscipline has been jailed.
Solomon Samu was handed a three-year sentence by magistrate Tendai Muchena who suspended one-year and left him to serve an effective two years behind bars.
It was the State’s case that Samu, who hails from Kanyemba Village under Chief Dotito in Mount Darwin, confronted the school’s deputy headmaster, Paddington Musake, in October last year demanding the “right” to beat up all the children at the school because they had “ill-discipline”.
As Samu made the bizarre demand, a fearful Musake felt powerless to stop him, as the seemingly deranged war veteran moved quickly to beat the learners, beginning with Grade Seven pupils who were about to write their final exams.
In passing judgment Muchena said the former freedom fighter had acted unlawfully in violating children’s rights hence he deserved a deterrent punishment.
“The accused had the intention to harm all the children at the school and it is hard to imagine a country where an individual approaches a school from nowhere and demand the right to assault children,” Muchena said.
In mitigation, Samu through his lawyer Elaton Bonongwe pleaded for leniency saying he was old and had two school-going children who still needed to be taken care of.
Samu also argued that he had been severely affected by the war and had not been treated for the trauma he suffered. He also said he was suffering from a backache resulting from fragments of a grenade that hit him during the war.
But Muchena pointed out that it was difficult to believe that nearly 40 years after the war, Samu was still suffering from the war effects that he did not know the effects of having to assault a whole school.
According to the State’s case after beating the Grade Seven pupils in the full view of their stunned teachers, Samu allegedly called on the Grade six and five learners, whereupon he meted on them the same punishment.
He only stopped the beatings when Musake and the other teachers eventually gathered the courage to threaten to call police to deal with him.Despite the incident happening in October last year, and school authorities immediately filing a formal complaint with police against the war veteran, he was only arrested last week after the intervention of parents and the Social Welfare department.