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Delayed and biased disciplinary cases led to school closure

By Michael Chepkwony and Cyrus Ombati | Jan 25th 2018 | 4 min read
Students of Jamhuri Boys High school carry their colleague who was injured following a clash between the students over alledged religious discrimation on Wednesday. [Photo by Beverlyne Musili/Standard]

A quarrel over a cup on Tuesday morning degenerated into a fight that has left over 40 students injured at Jamhuri High School.

The Nairobi-based institution has been shut down.

According to the school authorities, 42 students were wounded, but independent sources said seven boys had sustained serious injuries.

The tussle ensued when a Form Four prefect confronted a Form Two student, a day scholar, and accused him of being in possession of a cup meant for boarders.

The school has different colour codes for utensils to distinguish boarders from day scholars.

The Form Two learner was allegedly slapped by the prefect for using a cup belonging to a boarder during morning tea break.

As a result, the Form Two student reported the matter to the administration.

"The senator (prefect) slapped me for using a cup I had borrowed from my friend who is a boarder.

"I had forgotten mine at home. I reported the matter and the prefect later turned against me,” said the victim.

The victim said the prefect and four other boys brutally beat him while on his way home at around 7pm.

He was rushed to Al Amin Hospital where he was treated before he proceeded with his parents to record a statement at Pangani Police Station under OB 84/23/01/2018.

The boarders reported they faced off in the evening after taking their dinner, but the situation was contained by the administration.

“When teachers intervened, another group threatened to fight again in the morning,” said a student who was allegedly hit on his left leg with a broomstick.

Some students claimed to have reported the Tuesday evening threat to management but were told not to panic since the matter had been resolved.

Previous differences

Yesterday morning at around 6am, students said another fight ensued as the previous differences re-emerged.

Some of the combatants who had weapons, including knives hidden in their school bags, started attacking their colleagues and stones were also hurled.

The staff, led by the principal Fred Awuor, attempted to intervene but they were overpowered by the students who demanded that he leaves the school.

Police arrived to pacify the brawling students, but dozens of learners had sustained stab wounds by then.

It is suspected that the day scholars brought the weapons to school.

When The Standard arrived at the school, there were stones, clothes and broom handles scattered on the dusty ground.

Window panes in some buildings, including the student hall, had been broken.

Police patrolled the compound and the fire brigade team was also on standby outside.

A number of injured learners were being carried by their friends to an ambulance outside the gate for first aid while others limped there.

Many parents who were interviewed said trouble started last year when the new principal reported to the school.

“The management watched as our students slowly drifted away from discipline and now they are being blamed,” said a parent who sought anonymity for fear of being victimised.

Learners claim their leaders are mistreating them and favouring one group over another.

They claimed there were students who could not queue in the dining hall because they had friends who served as prefects.

“Kuna prefects wana-target specific groups ya stude na kuwatesa. Ukireport hakuna kitu principal anado (A section of prefects target specific groups of students and mistreat them. When you report, the principal does not act),” said a Form Three student.

Closed-door meeting

For close to two hours, Nairobi police boss Japheth Koome and the school's board of management held a closed-door meeting.

As the meeting went on, students assembled in two groups to discuss their issues.

The Standard found out there were different libraries, dining hall tables and toilets for different students.

But board chairperson Lonah Mumelo dismissed the reports.

“There were no serious injuries unless someone wants to exaggerate. They were all treated and discharged, unless some parents decided to take their own to hospital. But so far so good.

"No parent has ever reported any issue in the past. We will assess the damage and if the school cannot solve, we have the ministry. The parents will not pay anything,” said Dr Mumelo after their meeting.

The principal defended himself against the allegations, saying his school has been having “small issues” which will be probed.

“In any school there are always those small issues. They may have escalated,” said Mr Awuor.

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