Nothing seems too complicated about an apparent criminal case in which on-duty teachers failed to respond appropriately to a medical emergency involving a student under their quasi-parental care. However, it has been three months since Mochudi police started investigating teachers at the Molefi Senior Secondary School who self-indulgently let a female student who appeared to be in great pain writhe on the ground while one filmed and mocked her. This incident attracted the attention of Childline Botswana which reported the matter to the police. Three months later, investigations into the matter “have not been concluded.”
That is what Olebile Machete, Childline’s Coordinator, says the children’s rights advocacy NGO learnt when it called the Mochudi police to enquire about the status of the investigations. The call was motivated by feeling that the case had been pending for a long while. In explaining the delay, Machete says that the police said that they have to interview numerous people and process the evidence – which includes a video that went viral on social media.
In the video, the student is writhing on the ground in what looks like excruciating pain and is desperately asking for her mother. The number is unclear but two or three teachers are following her around, one filming the spectacle with a camera phone. A lone male voice, which is bereft of any note of urgency, is heard to casually, sarcastically deadpan that the student must have enjoyed whatever it is she had taken. The deadpanning complements the general lack of urgency that the teachers bring to what, with each passing second, looks every inch like a life-and-death medical emergency.
The case is messy all the way around. Following the incident, the Botswana Sector of Educator’s Union (BOSETU) Secretary General, Tobokani Rari, issued a press statement in which he revealed that the video “was meant to be used as evidence because most of the time when students misbehave, teachers battle to prove what they deal with. We are told they drank a chemical from the lab.” Generally, BOSETU sought to distract attention from the issue by addressing the broader issue of student indiscipline nationwide while completely ignoring the teachers’ scandalous response to a medical emergency. This it did on the basis of second-hand information (“we are told”) that it hadn’t verified. From what Sunday Standard established, there is no official policy for schools to videotape student misconduct. The Ministry wouldn’t respond to the specific question of how the video would have proved that the student had drank any chemical from a science laboratory.