Nyore Madzianike Senior Court Reporter
AN unqualified mathematics teacher, who was convicted of assaulting one of his pupils in full view of other learners at a college in Harare, was yesterday committed to perform 630 hours of unpaid work at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, starting this morning.
Talent Chingwaru (29) — who claimed to be a Wits University trained engineer — was initially jailed for 36 months when he appeared before Harare magistrate Mrs Judith Taruvinga charged with assault.
Mrs Taruvinga set aside 18 months of the jail term for five years on condition he does not commit a similar offence within that period.
The remaining 18 months were suspended on condition he performs 630 hours of community service at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals.
In sentencing Chingwaru, who was filmed assaulting the pupil at Einstein Tuition Centre, Mrs Taruvinga said although he should be given another chance to reform, he should control his anger.
“It is fortunate that the complainant did not suffer any permanent injuries,” she said.
“You could have lost your job and potential employers might not want to accept you because of the publicity that was involved.
“Accused, you need to be given another chance to reform and you need to control your anger.”
Mrs Taruvinga said she noted that corporal punishment was outlawed in 2014 after the upper courts ruled that it was inhumane.
Chingwaru told the court that he was emotionally stressed when he assaulted the pupil.
The State, led by Mrs Shambadzeni Fungura, had called for a custodial sentence saying taking away Chingwaru from the society while receiving correctional measures would send a clear message to would-be offenders.
Mrs Fungura said Chingwaru should know that crime does not pay, as he started from the “deeper end”.
“He is 29-years-old and his moral blameworthiness is very high. Accused acted out of emotions and that clearly shows that he is not a qualified teacher.
“Accused was supposed to be in the position of a parent. The position of a teacher implies that he is regarded as acting on behalf of a parent.
“A teacher is obliged to take care of the mental and physical health of a pupil. Accused was supposed to be working in the line of duties of a teacher,” she said.
Mrs Fungura said Chingwaru should have taken note that there were other learners who were watching him as he was assaulting the teenager.
“His actions instilled fear in other students who were watching while assaulting him. He used open hands, a belt and even head-butted the child.
“He used extreme force on the child,” she said.
Chingwaru, who was being represented by lawyer Joshua Chirambwe, had pleaded for leniency from the court saying there were many people looking forward to writing their examinations soon, who are looking up to him.
“I wish to emphasise that the accused is a trusted life coach in our society upon which hundreds and hundreds of young people look upon him.
“The idea of custodial sentences in these circumstances would not jeopardise the interests of the accused, but of the whole society.
“He earns a paltry US$200 and has no savings, although he owns two vehicles. The accused is learning the ropes of life and deserves a second chance.
“There are many students who are yet to complete their studies and rely on accused person. I believe that teachers are the most responsible members of society,” he said.
Mr Chirambwe told the court that Chingwaru is a qualified engineer from Wits University whose expertise assists society.
He added that Chingwaru handed himself to the police and later pleaded guilty in court, which shows remorse and contrition.
“Young persons must not be punished like more mature offenders. Judicial officers should not be swayed in coming to conclusion by what is on social media or newspapers.
“The charge is a common assault. It was out of love of his work and some certain zeal that gave him a temptation that he regretted,” he said.