Waiting for justice after losing an eye

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Charles Dlamini lost an eye during a classroom brawl in 1997. He has been waiting for justice since that day. Picture: BONGANI MBATHA

Durban - Sixteen years after being stabbed in the eye by a classmate during school hours, Charles Dlamini has still not had justice. He was in Grade 4 in 1997 when he was stabbed in the eye by his classmate, while the class was left unattended.

His mother, Albertina, who took the matter to court on his behalf, died while waiting for the outcome of the case.

Dlamini, 27, was dealt another blow last week when the Pietermaritzburg High Court found that the Department of Education and the school, Ramatha Road Primary, were not to blame, but that the then pupil should be held wholly accountable for Dlamini’s damages.

His claim was for R4 million.

Judge Willem Booysen ruled that the teacher on duty, or any other teacher for that matter, would not have been able to prevent the fight or the injury.

He also found no liability for Dlamini’s damages had been proven against the teacher, the principal or the Department of Education.

However, he found the former pupil to be the aggressor, who was clearly responsible for the damages Dlamini had suffered.

The former pupil did not attend the proceedings. “This is really unfair. The guy who did this to me has never attended the trial. How is he going to pay me for the injury?” Dlamini said.

He said he was shocked to hear that the school and the Department of Education were not held responsible for what happened to him.

“There was no teacher on duty in the classroom when the fight started. If a teacher had been present I would not have lost an eye,” said Dlamini.

Memories of the traumatic incident still play on in his mind. At the time, Dlamini’s single mother, who supported her seven children with income earned from being a street vendor, was not able to afford the necessary medical treatment. “Each time I look at my face in the mirror, I’m filled with emotion,” he said.

Apart from losing sight in one eye, Dlamini said he had been the butt of many jokes throughout his schooling career. Girls were reluctant to date him because of his disability and he was struggling to get a driver’s licence because of his impaired vision.

Even employers are reluctant to hire him. Dlamini presently works part-time at a catering company. “The incident has left me traumatised for life. When I was younger it affected my self- esteem greatly. But now that I’m older I deal with things much better,” said Dlamini.

Yugusan Govender, Dlamini’s lawyer, said they would be appealing the decision.

Sunday Tribune

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