After being instructed by St. Andrews International Primary School management on Friday to evict their former teacher from their premises, overzealous G4S security guards assaulted the expatriate teacher, Nola Formentin and after she reported to Blantyre Police, three of them were arrested.
Blantyre Police public relations officer, Peter Mchiza confirmed of the arrest, saying they were released on bail same day and are expected to appear in court on Monday.
However, the complainant has since flown out of the country since her contract was not renewed, but an insider source at the school indicated that those who witnessed the ugly incident are willing to testify in favour of Formentin in her absentia.
Our source said Formentin and Phillips sought the intervention of the Industrial Relations Court after the expatriate teacher’s contract was not going to be renewed.
“The results of the investigations, which were instituted way back in May were not been released and since her contract was not being renewed she sought court intervention to clear her name and go back to her home country with a clear conscience,” said out source.
“The court has since cleared Nola and the other staff member of any wrongdoing and her crime was that she had gone to the school to bid farewell to her former students and other members of staff, whom she had developed a strong bond of relationship before returning back to Australia.”
According to the court, the report does not name Formentin and Phillips as authors of the anonymous email that was sent to the parents and thus the two are innocent of any suspicion linked to the allegations brought against them.
Satisfied that she was going back home clean of any suspicions of involvement of the leaked memo, Formentin thus went to the school and our source said as she chatted with her former colleagues, management was not happy of her presence and ordered the guards to evict her.
In the video clip, the staff member Formentin was with intervened and forcibly restrained the overzealous guards while the shocked Formentin is seen crying in shame and incredulity of what she did wrong to deserve the indecent assault.
Our source indicated to us that one of the person captured in the video was head of the school’s security, who was just watching what was happening without intervening — “a clear indication that the instructions from management were to embarrass their former employee”.
But the school issued a statement on Friday, which accused Formentin’s visit as “a deliberate and calculated move to cause as much trouble and commotion as possible and disrupt the smooth running of the school before she leaves”.
The school contend that “whilst the actions of the G4S guards may have appeared to have been disproportionate, we recognised they were put in in a situation where they had no choice.
“As a school, we have serious safeguarding concerns about the conduct of Miss Formentin which required our immediate action.”
The Board of Governors continue to accuse Formentin as the one who leaked the email and despite being cleared by the court, they still maintained in their statement that Formentin “was on suspension [and they] were in the process of writing to advise [her] on the outcome of the suspension”.
“While this had yet to be communicated, she still came on the school premises. We had repeatedly asked Miss Formentin to leave the school site in a quiet and dignified manner after she arrived at 6:15 this morning.
“She refused this and began causing significant trouble across the site. We put the school into lockdown to prevent children from witnessing anything, which they have not.”
Our source who witnessed the scene described the school’s statement as a complete lie when the management contends that “the school was put in an untenable position” by Formentin’s action, saying they did all they “could to prevent the incident escalating”.
In an interview with ZBSNews, the school’s Board chairperson, Lance Mbewe also contended that Formentin was suspended for some issues and, therefore, was not supposed to be found within the premises until the matter is resolved.
Mbewe is quoted as saying “the situation was unfortunate” and that “rightful things could have been done. We do not teach children violence. This is not something which happens regularly.”
Meanwhile, the school’s Board of governors and senior leadership team earlier on Friday released a statement that indicates that in May “a false statement pertaining to be from the Board of governors was circulated” and that “as a result of this, a criminal investigation was launched”.
“Due to the confidential and sensitive nature of this, it has not been possible to share details of this with our school community,” continues the statement. “We would like to thank those parents who have supported us through this period and for their patience in waiting for the outcomes of the investigation as well as those parents who have avoided the Blantyre gossip mill as this has exacerbated the situation.
“The investigation was led by a team of private investigators and deliberately did not include in any way, any member of the school leadership team or Board of Governors to ensure a fair, equitable and confidential process.
“The private investigators are working alongside colleagues in the UK who are experts in the forensic retrieval of technical information such as this as well as Cyber Forensic Police Officers here in Malawi.
“It is now possible to share the initial findings of the investigation as they have been categorically verified through the identification of the computer used to write and send the statement.”
The statement further says the forensic investigation indicates that the “email and statement were written and sent by a previous member of ‘early year team”.
“The case is currently with Interpol who are working to ensure an arrest and that justice is served against the criminal offenses of intellectual property theft and impersonation.
“We are also currently following legal processes to deal with libel and defamation of character which are also being taken very seriously.
“This investigation remains ongoing and we already know that this has led to individuals being linked to the case.
“Although this is part of our internal HR processes, this investigation is still being run by private investigators to continue ensuring the process remains fair and equitable.
“As a school, we continue to have a zero-tolerance policy towards threats, bullying and behaviors which bring the name of the school into disrepute.
“Our school should be a safe place for all pupils, families and staff. We will fight to ensure that this is the case by applying the same zero-tolerance policy to anyone who associates themselves with this kind of activity.”
The statement indicates that the senior leadership team and the Board of Governors will convene a meeting on Monday July 11 from 17:30hrs in the school hall where they will explain in full contents of the investigations.
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