Grade 9 pupil charged after pepper spray stunt

2011-07-29 00:00

AN assault case has been opened against a grade nine pupil at Woodlands Secondary School after he let off pepper spray in a classroom and scores of his classmates inhaled the chemical.

About 20 pupils were rushed to Northdale Hospital on Wednesday morning after they “struggled to breathe”. Some vomited; others suffered from panic attacks.

The pupil reportedly opened a pepper spray canister and threw it at the end of the classroom, ran outside and closed the door behind him.

Two other pupils are said to be implicated in the case.

A concerned parent whose daughter missed school yesterday as a result of having an inflamed nose and throat said she is angry.

“We had to take my daughter to Midlands Hospital because they were taking forever to attend all the children at once. Now who’s going to pay that medical bill? She was sedated for hours,” the woman said.

She told The Witness she wants the school to take full responsibility.

The 14-year-old said she only remembers having teary eyes and going “blind” after the pepper spray filled the entire room.

“I was struggling to open my eyes. Everyone around me was coughing. I had severe chest pains, and I ran to the toilet to throw up. My best friend couldn’t handle it. She just vomited in front of me. Our teacher choked as well.”

The parent said, “This is really troubling. When we send our children to school we aren’t sending them to a danger zone. I want justice.”

The Woodlands Secondary School principal, who gave her name as Mrs Hajjee and was reluctant to speak the press, said the matter was dealt with and the pupil was suspended and will be taken to a tribunal.

“Everything is under control and the learners got trauma counselling. Everything was handled fast. We called the ambulance and the police. I believe that the boy was just pulling a prank,” Hajjee added.

But the angry parents said it is “not a prank” when their children’s lives are at stake.

The same pupil was reportedly suspended for carrying a knife at school this year.

KZN Education Department spokesperson Sihle Mlotswa said, three pupils were suspended with immediate effect and “the tribunal that will be taking place within a week is going to sit to determine their fate”.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan said an assault case has been opened.

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