Teacher testifies that parent falsely accused her of beating her child then demanded R50k
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Johannesburg - A teacher acquitted on appeal over a conviction of assaulting a pupil, testified in court that a parent solicited R50 000 from her, before opening a false case against her.
Joyce Mokgaetji Mbiza, a teacher at a primary school in Motodi Village, Limpopo, appealed a finding of common assault by the Burgerfort Regional Court in the Polokwane High Court.
Judge Legodi Phatudi found in her favour in the court judgment delivered last week, saving her from joining the list of teachers who subjected children to corporal punishment, despite its banning in the 1990s.
While she originally faced a grievous bodily harm charge on allegations that she hit a Grade 2 learner with open hands and a stick, Mbiza was convicted of common assault.
The incident happened in July 2017 and the case was opened in November that year.
The child’s mother claimed that Mbiza had hit the learner with open hands and a stick on her head until she bled from her forehead.
Mbiza’s defence was that she was subjected to a false accusation. She said under oath that the child’s mother had demanded R50 000 from her. The amount was later reduced to R35 000, and then R30 000, Mbiza submitted.
She had refused to accede to the “offers” because she did not assault the child, Mbiza maintained in court.
According to court records, the magistrate found Mbiza guilty of common assault, despite finding that she did not hit the learner.
The magistrate said: “It is true that corporal punishment is no longer allowed in South Africa, but did she do that?
“Clearly she did not cause any harm or ill-treatment to the child, that is, taking into consideration the evidence before this court and, therefore, I am not satisfied that the accused person abused the child on the day in question,” said the judge.
Judge Phatudi ruled that the magistrate’s finding that Mbiza was guilty of common assault was inexplicable.
“I, having read from the record of proceedings and having heard counsel, find that there was a misdirection of facts by the trial court, that led to the pronouncement of the guilty verdict on assault common, which warrants interference by this appeal court,” Judge Phatudi said.
“The trial court’s conclusion cannot, in my view, be said to be correct. I am persuaded to accept that the trial court’s assessment is wrong.
“I am thus duty bound to reject its assessment of evidence relating to assault common, which the appellant is found guilty of,” concluded Judge Phatudi.