What began as quest for hot breakfast by three form one students at St Monica’s Girls school in Trans Nzoia County ended in pain after they sustained body injuries.

When the three entered the school dining hall at around 6.45 am last Thursday to be served with breakfast, they expected everything to end well.

However, the worst happened when one of the cooks, Vincent Juma alias Papa scolded them.

It is alleged that Mr Juma poured hot water on them after they requested for it, which they wanted to use to prepare breakfast, as they did not want to use milk as others.

The school was suddenly brought to a standstill as screams of the three rented the air after the enraged cook splashed them with hot water.

They were immediately put in the school van and rushed to the Kitale county hospital for examination where they had their scald wounds dressed, with two of them being released after treatment. 

The medical report indicated that one girl suffered eight percent body burns on the right leg, arm and right face while second student sustained burn on legs and hands. The third girl had injuries on her legs.

The form one girl who had sustained severe injuries on the right side of the face,  arm and thighs was transferred to the Kiminini Cottage Hospital for further observation and treatment.

“She was brought here at around 6.40 pm by the matron where she was admitted and put on medication. We  treated the wounds,” said one of the nurses at the hospital who spoke on a condition of anonymity.

The Nation made two visits to the school on Thursday morning seeking comments from the administration  over the incident, but was denied access by security guards, who had clear instructions not to allow journalists at the institution.

The Nation team interviewed students who were leaving the school after closure of term two where they confirmed that their colleagues were indeed injured.

“It’s true that three form one girls are nursing injuries after they were splashed with hot water by one of the cooks. The matter was however covered up by the school administration, which warned us against disclosing any information relating to it,” said a Form three student.

The head of the catholic diocese in Kitale Bishop Maurice Anthony Crowley who is also the chairman of the school’s board of management (BOM) confirmed the incident saying punitive actions were instituted against those involved.

“It’s true that hot water was poured and one student was slightly injured. She was admitted at Kiminini cottage hospital where she was treated and later released,” said Bishop Crowley.

The Bishop said the cook who has stayed for long at the school could have woken up in bad moods but that does not justify his actions and the matter was referred to the police for investigation.

When contacted, the parents to the girl who was admitted Mary Nabiswa said she was devastated when she learnt of the incident on Saturday prompting her to pay her a visit at the hospital.

“I stayed with her from Saturday up to Monday where she was discharged and allowed to get back to school in readiness for closing. The school management assured me that they were handling the matter hence they are better placed to give broader details on what transpired,” said Mrs. Nabiswa who is based at Webuye in Bungoma County.

According to Trans Nzoia police commander Jacinta Wesonga, the matter was reported and investigations  launched, though the cook in question is currently at large.

“We have launched a manhunt for the cook, who immediately took off after he learned that the matter had been reported at the Kitale Police Station. Already, the boarding mistress and the three students have recorded statements,” said Ms Wesonga.

She added they are pursuing leads that will help them arrest the suspect upon which he will be arraigned in court to answer to charges of grievous harm and assault.

Meanwhile, education officials in the region have issued a stern warning to members of support staff working in schools in the County against harassing learners even when they are aggrieved.

 “Upon receiving a report of the incident, my office instructed the school’s Board of Management (BOM) to convene an urgent meeting. The same was done and one of the resolutions was summarily dismissal of the cook,” Trans Nzoia County Director of Education (CDE) Luke Chebet said, adding that plans are underway for his replacement.

Mr Chebet advised schools’ heads and boards of management to be extra careful when recruiting members of staff, especially those within the unskilled category, in order to avoid endangering the lives of innocent learners. 

“The ministry will institute disciplinary actions against heads in charge of public schools where staff commit criminal offenses towards learners and no action is taken or there is cover up,” cautioned Chebet.

Source: Nation

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