LEGAL think-tank, Veritas, has called for a repeal of legislation allowing for administration of corporal punishment on boys aged below 18 years saying it was unconstitutional.
In its latest Constitution Watch report, Veritas said section 353 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill should be repealed as it contravened the Constitution.
Section 353 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill gives power to the courts to impose corporal punishment.
“In 1989 the Supreme Court declared that sentences of whipping imposed on boys under the age of 18 were unconstitutional in that they were inhuman and degrading,” Veritas said.
“The government promptly amended the then Constitution to allow such punishments to be imposed. The present Constitution does not incorporate this amendment, however, juvenile corporal punishment that is, whipping of boys — has again become unconstitutional.”
The Zimbabwe Teacher’s Association (Zimta) last Friday also called for the statute to be reviewed, adding that the practice was still rife in most schools.
“On the issue of corporal punishment, the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association through its various departments and officers has noted that corporal punishment is still rife and prevalent at schools across the country. It is concerned that many people believe that corporal punishment is an African and Zimbabwean method of child discipline,” the teachers’ body said.
Zimta said it had noted that a number of teachers faced disciplinary hearings after meting out corporal punishment on students.
In January this year , High Court judge, Justice Esther Muremba ruled that it was unconstitutional, and therefore illegal, to use corporal punishment on children. She was making reference to a case of a 15-year-old boy who had been found guilty of sexually molesting a 14-year-old female neighbour and had been sentenced to canning.
Justice Muremba ruled that the new constitution had no room for the “cruel” act which has been described by international humanitarian organisations as barbaric and ancient.
But educationists and some parents feel that the law took away from them the ability to shape their children into good responsible citizens through corporal punishment .