THE father of the Chengelo School student who was filmed being physically assaulted by two other pupils has appealed to the institution to rescind its decision to expel the duo.
And Luke Powell has told The Mast that even though he wrote urging forgiveness, his parents and God deserve credit for giving him insight to express the views contained in the letter to Chengelo Secondary School
In a letter to Chengelo’s principal Andrew Cowling on Monday, Powell urged the school to show the two boys love and not rejection through expulsion, for assaulting his son Gawen.
The Mkushi-based school’s disciplinary sub-committee has since decided to “permanently exclude” the two students – identified as Mwila Hara and Jabulani Nhliziyo – responsible for the assault.
“Investigations and interviews regarding all students involved will be ongoing during the course of this week and we are working with and supporting the active police enquiry,” according to the statement. “We would like to state again that Chengelo School does not tolerate bullying in any form and we continue to review and strengthen our policies and student support mechanisms to ensure the safeguarding of our students.”
In the video that circulated on social media, the first boy is heard hurling insults at Gawen before the other boy joins in with a belt.
Shortly afterwards, Gawen is punched and kicked several times, as he repeatedly apologises.
Other pupils look on helplessly, until one courageously walks to the two boys, telling them to stop beating their schoolmate.
But in his letter to Cowling, Powell stated that the underlying ethos he had taken from all Chengelo School presentations he attended was how well rounded students become by attending the school, where they lived in a caring family environment based on God’s fundamental principles.
He commended the school for acknowledging students who exhibited personal sacrifice and were always ready to help others.
“ALL the boys in the dorm during Gawen’s assault are just KIDS, who ONLY have a FEW more years left where they can be guided and shown that God’s LOVE defeats all evil, no matter how IMPOSSIBLE the situation may seem,”
“This is THE opportunity for Chengelo to show Zambia (social media) that God’s LOVE triumphs over evil, by showing these boys love and not rejection. We need to be extremely careful and aware of the possibility of KIDS feeling ‘overwhelmed’ and committing suicide.”
He stated that the board’s decision to expel the two students for assaulting Gawen did not come as a surprise considering the many pressures that were demanding that such action be taken.
Powell stated that he did not believe such was the “correct (long term) solution” for all concerned.
He stated in the past, expulsion did not help children since it does not demand them having to face the consequences nor be accountable for their actions.
“We implore the board to reverse its decision to expel the boys so that all can be accountable, be given care, counseling and God’s love,”
“This is the time to show FAITH that God will protect the school against ALL obstacles and not bow down to earthly pressures based on a punishment that does not show LOVE and compassion. Gawen needs closure with Jab and Mwila, which may not be possible should their expulsion from school go ahead – with this in mind, I have invited Jabulani and Mwila to come with their respective fathers to spend a few days with Gawen and his father (myself), to be alone away from external influences to spend time being human in each other’s company to appreciate each other in God eyes.”
He stressed that his paramount desire was for all the boys concerned to come away having learnt the power of God’s love.
“I feel this can only be shown by Chengelo School reversing its decision to exclude Mwila and Jabulani, by taking the first step along a very hard and contentious road – let us have faith in God and all will learn the power of God’s love,” stated Powell who later confirmed having written the letter when approached by The Mast to authenticate it.
Jabulani, in a message posted on the school’s Facebook page on Tuesday following his expulsion for brutalizing his friend, stated that he was sorry for acting out of control.
“It is with utmost remorse that I am writing to apologise for my actions in the video that has been circulating on social media. I am sending my apologies to my friend Gawen Powell, I am sorry for acting out of control, I hope you find it within your heart to forgive me. I am terribly sorry to my parents, family, school, fellow students, friends and everyone who has seen the video and has been coerced into debates alike. I have no right to cause physical pain to another person, what happened with my friend was a disgrace, an act of stupidity which I deeply regret. For those of you who may know me and have grown up with me, you know that I’m not this type of person and I certainly do not have the type of mind-set to do what I did. I have been brought up with values of love and respect which I intend to uphold at all times,” stated Jabulani.
“I am truly sorry for the actions that I had taken and sorry to my fellow students and every other school in Zambia for seeing such a horrible act. All I am asking for is your help in this very hard time when everyone seems to be against me. I have taken a step to seek professional counselling as part of my healing. It is also my hope and prayer that my friends and others who have directly or indirectly experienced trauma from this incidence seek counseling.”