Highway Secondary teacher under scrutiny as student alleges torture

Agnes Mwangi Waithera during an interview on June 28, 2022 at Nation Centre when she spoke about the alleged assault on her son, who is a Form Three student at Highway Secondary School in Nairobi.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

A family in Nairobi is seeking justice for a 16-year-old boy allegedly beaten and badly injured by a teacher at Highway Secondary School.

The Form Three student is nursing injuries at home in South B, Langáta sub-county.

Officers at the Industrial Area Police Station were told that the teacher found the student outside the classroom during preps on Sunday, June 19, and allegedly beat him up.

“I was on my way from the toilet and heading to wash my hands at the tap as I [headed] to class when I met … the teacher on duty known as Mr Marita who was beating up another student. He called me and once I arrived near him he stopped beating the other student and started beating me,” the student said in his statement to the police.

The teacher then allegedly pushed him to the ground, removed his belt and started beating him on his back with it.

The student said the teacher did not ask him any question or tell him what his mistake was until he started screaming, attracting the attention of other students.

“I tried to block him using my hands but he firmly held my head in between his legs. He beat me continuously for about seven minutes before he ordered me to follow him to the office located at the Kiswahili department within the school compound,” he said.

The boy said that as soon as they entered the office, the teacher locked the door behind him before ordering the student to bend and put his head under a chair in the office.

He then reached for two canes. One resembled a whip and he started caning him as he accused him of being rude and noisy.

Report the matter

“He beat me for about ten minutes until 9pm when the bell meant to indicate that it was sleeping time rang,” he said.

The student then went to his classroom and told his friends what had happened, showing them his back, which was injured.

The student decided to report the matter to the school’s deputy principal, who asked him to share the information with the boarding master, whom the deputy asked to give the student painkillers.

The following morning the student, who said he was still in pain, decided to report the matter to Principal Irungu Nduati.

Mr Nduati told him he was busy and referred him back to the deputy principal, who ordered him to wear his school shirt and go back to class.

Moments later, he was called to the Kiswahili department, where he met the teacher who had allegedly whipped him the previous night.

“The teacher who had beaten me took me out of the class and apologised, saying that he did not have anything against me and he had punished me unintentionally,” the student said.

The teachers kept giving him painkillers, but he insisted that he was not well and it would be better for him to go to hospital.

The following day the principal called him to his office. He made a call to his mother, explaining that there had been a small problem the previous day and the school wanted to take her son to hospital.

“As he was talking to my mother [by] phone, I shouted … and demanded that she come to school and personally take me to hospital,” he said.

It is then that the principal asked the boy’s mother to go to school and pick him up.

The boy’s mother, Ms Agnes Waithera, took her son to Mater Hospital, not far from the school. He was treated and discharged.

When police officers gave them a P3 form (a medical report form that acts as evidence that a violent act was committed) they decided to go to Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital, where he was treated and a report written.

“All I want is justice for my son, who was assaulted by a teacher and they tried to hide the whole thing,” Ms Waithera said.

Corporal punishment

She had to pick up and drop off her son at school every day until it was closed on Monday this week.

Medical documents from Mater and Mama Lucy hospitals indicate that the student had bruises on his left ear and multiple bruises on his back.

According to Dr Okello, who treated the student, he also had bruises on one left-hand finger.

Mr Nduati;  the school principal yesterday evening told the Nation on phone that he would not comment on the matter as it was under investigation. 

"Already, the police have questioned the school and the parent. At this time I will not comment on anything as the matter is under investigations," he said. 

Corporal punishment in schools has been a subject of debate in Kenya in recent years, with Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha saying it was time it was reintroduced.

Before 2001, a section of the Education Act allowed caning in certain instances of indiscipline.

But that part of the law was scrapped. The 2001 Children’s Act also prohibits corporal punishment.

The Constitution is also clear about this issue. Article 29 states: "Every person has the right to freedom and security of the person, which includes the right not to be subjected to any form of violence from either public or private sources. In part (e) one is not to be subjected to corporal punishment."

Corporal punishment is also prohibited in all settings, including at home and other settings.


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