Police detain Benschop during protest over Agricola killing

By Patrick Denny
Stabroek News
June 12, 2001

The police on Sunday took into custody the teacher who flogged and injured nine-year old Nickesha Garraway, a pupil of the Lodge/ Enterprise Primary school, eleven days after the incident occurred. Nickesha suffered a fractured clavicle (collar bone) as a result of the flogging.

The teacher was taken into police custody on Sunday morning. Assault charges are likely to be laid.

Nickesha was reportedly beaten by the teacher who was standing in for the regular class teacher on Wednesday afternoon but the injury to the collar bone was only discovered two days later by the child's mother after the child developed a high fever and she slumped on the left shoulder.

The police had gone to the teacher's home after the report was made but the teacher was said to have gone to Essequibo.

Nickesha's mother, Wendy Garraway on Saturday told Stabroek News that the teacher had called her home early that morning and told her that she did not know that Nickesha had been injured. She learnt of it from one of the newspapers on Friday, one week after she had been advised by the head of the school to help to meet Nickesha's medical expenses. She also said that she was in Essequibo and would be travelling to the city the next day. She promised to visit on Sunday afternoon.

Garraway said that the teacher's husband visited her home on Sunday after the teacher was taken into custody and offered assistance with the medical expenses. However, she said that she told him that his offer of assistance came too late as the family had already covered it.

In an invited comment on the report, acting Assistant Chief Education Officer with responsibility for Georgetown, Balram Inderjit said that the Georgetown Education Department could only institute a departmental charge and discipline the teacher but it could not do much more. Criminal charges would have to be dealt with by the court and he advised Garraway to report the matter to the police which she did.

He noted that in a case where the teacher walks off the job there was nothing more the department could do. He recalled an incident last year when a teacher had beaten and injured a child at the Dolphin Secondary School. No criminal charges were filed in the courts against the teacher and the only option was to institute a departmental charge which meant that the ministry would have deducted two weeks of a month's salary. The teacher walked off the job so the ministry's disciplinary measure was of no effect.

Garraway said that she has had no help from anyone outside of her immediate family but she feels that she and the child ought to be compensated for injuries and inconvenience.

The law pertaining to corporal punishment in schools says that corporal punishment should be administered by the headteacher or a senior teacher so delegated by the headteacher and in the presence of the headteacher. (Miranda La Rose)