Court clears school head who forced pupil to strip naked

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Matabeleland North Correspondent

A SECONDARY school deputy headmistress who allegedly forced a Form One girl to undress in the presence of other teachers in Hwange was all smiles on Friday after a magistrate cleared of any wrongdoing.

Possenta Kwidini, aged 50, was facing a charge of seriously impairing the dignity of another person after she allegedly forced the schoolgirl to undress as punishment for walking around with her skirt unzipped.

The 15-year-old girl who cannot be named for ethical reasons, had reported the matter to her uncle who is also a teacher at the same school before the matter was reported to the police.

Kwidini, who was being represented by Elvis Mashindi of Mashindi and Partners, pleaded not guilty saying she acted as a parent to rebuke the pupil from walking around naked.

On Friday, Hwange magistrate Gift Dube said the State, led by Trymore Chitumbu had failed to establish a prima facie case against Kwidini before he found her not guilty and acquitted her.

The magistrate said there were inconsistencies in the evidence given by the complainant, who had one lady teacher testifying on her behalf against the deputy headmistress.

“There were inconsistencies in the complainant’s testimony while it is also not clear whether she was threatened to unzip her skirt or not.

“There was no evidence from the State to show that the girl was threatened.

“Her dignity was almost compromised as she was walking with her zip open and she was called into the room where there was privacy as the teacher wanted to reprimand her,” said the magistrate.

The magistrate said from evidence brought before his court, he found that the girl’s skirt fell in the process of the rebuke and it was not the intention of Kwidini to make it fall.

He said the complainant was wrong to walk naked.

“The child was wrong. No one will allow her kid or anyone to walk publicly with the zip open. Teachers are parents at school, hence the court finds that the teacher’s intention was correct as she had no intention to strip her naked. The State dismally failed to bring evidence,” said the magistrate.

Earlier before start of trial, Kwidini had applied for exception of the case but the application was dismissed by the same magistrate.

Prosecutors had alleged that Kwidini, who is a “feared” local businesswoman as the community alleges she and her family use their wealth to abuse members of the community, forced the girl to undress in the presence of two other female teachers Chipo Mahlangu and Mazvita Muteme in September this year.

Mahlangu testified in favour of the girl while Muteme supported Kwidini.

Allegations were that Kwidini was sitting in the Textiles Technology and Design room in the company of the two female teachers when she saw the girl tucking her school uniform shirt behind the classroom and called her.

Kwidini told the girl that it was improper for a girl to dress in public and allegedly ordered her girl to unzip her skirt.

The girl complied and Kwidini allegedly ordered her to let the skirt drop down while threatening to assault her.

Out of fear, the girl complied and she was left wearing her shirt and pant only.

Kwidini allegedly later ordered her to dress up and go to her classroom where she was consoled by her classmates who had witnessed the incident from their class.