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A dead orphan, hockey stick beating and disbelieving guardian

NATIONAL
By Kamau Muthoni | October 12th 2021

A doctor’s report affirming cause of death, hockey-stick battery claims and a disbelieving guardian sum up the curious case of an orphaned "Wings To Fly" beneficiary who passed away in controversial circumstances.

In the case playing out in the courts, the 17-year-old minor whose identity the court has hidden, succumbed at Nairobi Women's Hospital in 2019, follows a series of events now being reviewed by the courts.

While a pathologist report reads that the boy died of pulmonary tuberculosis, the minor's guardian has disputed the medical conclusion of the death, citing an alleged battery incident involving a teacher at Kangaru School, and which preceded the boy's hospitalisation.

The guardian, Irene Ruguru, has sued the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), Attorney General Kihara Kariuki and the school. She blames it all on his former mathematics teacher, James Mwai, who has since been punished by TSC.

Court records read that on February 26, 2019, the boy alongside two other students were out to wash their faces when their mathematics teacher got in class. Ruguru claims that Mr Mwai was furious that the trio had walked in late, grabbed a hockey stick and randomly started clobbering them.

According to Ruguru, the boy's small frame absorbed most of the beating, but still managed to sit through the mathematics lesson.

When the pain failed to ease, he went to the school nurse who prescribed some painkillers. The boy was taken to Tenri Children’s Hospital, Embu the following day by the school nurse and the teacher on duty. A scan revealed that he had a fractured left leg.

“The doctor advised to have the student admitted at the hospital for further observation but the nurse and the teacher refused, and insisted on taking him back to school holding the view that it was unnecessary,” the guardian told the court.

This did not help, and the school later on directed Mwai to take the boy to Embu level five hospital. Here, she says, he was treated, given some crutches and returned to school.

According to her, the boy got worse a week later, prompting his class teacher to call her.

“The petitioner was not only in extreme pain but his skin had darkened, could neither talk nor eat and moved with extreme difficulty,” she says adding that the class teacher claimed the teen had fallen.

She claims that on request that the boy should leave school for treatment, the boarding master refused, saying they were managing him well with painkillers, motivational speeches on the toughness of the boy-child.

The guardian says that the boy was again taken to Tiren Hospital and after a back and forth on who was to bear the cost, Kangaru agreed to pay. He was taken to the ICU but the hospital informed her that they could no longer handle him.

According to court documents filed before High Court judge Hedwig Ong’undi, she reported the incident to the police in Embu.

He was transferred to Nairobi Women’s Hospital where he succumbed. She says after the post mortem was done, the school administration abandoned her. Police washed their hands off the matter as the cause of death was different from the injuries he had sustained.

Ruguru says TSC went on to fire Mr Mwai for administering corporal punishment to minors. She maintains that the trauma the boy sustained after the beating contributed to his death, accusing TSC of failing to guarantee the deceased a safe academic environment.

She wants the court to find the school, the commission, and the AG liable for Mwai’s actions. At the same time, Ruguru is seeking orders that the beating was against the deceased’s right to health, not to be treated in an inhumane manner, and right to life.

Ruguru is also seeking compensation.

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