Two men in hot water for 'spanking' child

Charged with assault
Two men were charged with assault in Swakopmund after they spanked their foster child.
Adam Hartman
Two men were arrested last Thursday for allegedly assaulting an 11-year-old boy, which happens to be their foster child.

Ryno du Plessis and his partner, Christian Thiart, were arrested and made their first appearance in the Swakopmund Magistrate's Court on a charge of assault with the intention to do grievous bodily harm. According to a police incident report, the suspects, earlier this month, "hit the victim with a wooden plank on the buttocks, causing swelling."

The accused were each given N$5 000 bail, and the case was postponed to 23 November. The child is now in the care of a relative. According to the relative, the child was staying with the two men in Swakopmund.

The relative told Erongo 24/7 that Du Plessis called her about a week ago asking her if she could take the child. He allegedly told her that the child was so naughty that he had to give him a hiding. After she picked him up, and took him home with her, she noticed he was walking funny.

She asked what was going on, and he said he was in pain because he was given a hiding. "We went to the room, and I inspected his buttocks. They were bruised black and blue, and swollen double the size," the relative said. "I was shocked." She informed the social workers, which eventually led to the arrest and the two men being charged.

When contacted for comment, Du Plessis, he said the parents and them agreed to take in the child over a year and a half ago due to the family being in difficult circumstances. "We've walked a way with him, and in the event of discipline, we've done everything we could when he is naughty; take privileges away, or ground him, you name it, we tried everything to teach him discipline," he explained.

According to him, relatives allegedly also told him that the only thing that will "work" with the child, would be a spanking - and even the child allegedly agreed.

Du Plessis said that it was agreed that a "small simple pine plank" would be used to administer the spanking - on the buttocks. "I gave him a normal hiding, and explained to him why," he said, referring to the last incident in which the child was supposed to do homework, but instead, played computer games.

He said that he contacted a relative to take the child for some time so he could deal with other family issues, which included a very sick mother-in-law. "We dropped him off, and everyone was all smiles, and the next thing I know, I am being locked up for assault," he said, adding that his partner, Thiart, was also arrested because he also gave the child a spanking two weeks before - allegedly for stealing.

Corporal punishment is generally understood as the application of physical force by a person in a position of authority with the intention of causing pain for disciplinary purposes. Corporal punishment usually includes slapping, spanking, beating with the hand or beating with an object like a stick or a belt.