Mob hacks teen to death

2008-02-09 00:00

Violence between school pupils led to a death and a shooting in KwaZulu-Natal yesterday.

At a school in Thornville near Pietermaritzburg, a gang of about 10 people hacked a teenager to death on the assembly ground, in what is believed to have been a revenge attack for a violent fight last year.

Mlulama High School was closed yesterday after the discovery of the body of the 17-year-old victim in the early hours.

Police believe the murder might be linked to a fight at the school in August last year in which Sibongiseni Phakathi (19) was stabbed in a dispute over a pen.

The fight led to parents and a group of locals storming into the school wielding bush knifes and an eight-year-old boy being grazed by a bullet shot by policemen trying to restrain the crowd. Phakathi died two weeks ago at Edendale Hospital after five months of being wheel-chair bound from his injury.

Phakathi’s family complain that his murderers are walking free, while police do nothing about the deteriorating situation.

According to police, the dead teen’s body had open wounds to the head and legs, believed to have been inflicted with a bush knife.

Inspector Joey Jeevan said that the police were contacted after a security guard on duty noticed a group of about 10 people gather around the school gate in the early hours of the morning.

Six of the gang went into the school premises, while the other four stood guard.

A short while later, the two groups left together. Some time later the guard heard screams and called his supervisor, and they found the body already lifeless.

KZN Education superintent-general Cassius Lubisi said the deceased was a former pupil at the school.

"We want to send our heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased who was killed on the school’s premises. We want to strongly condemn the violence, which has been playing out in schools in the past weeks," he said.

The department will be sending a delegation to meet with the Hopewell community, along with its leaders, where they hope resolutions will be made.

In Durban, police were searching for a 16-year-old pupil who shot another pupil outside a restaurant in kwaMashu.

Police spokesman Inspector Michael Read said the two boys, who are pupils at Isibonela High in kwaMashu, were outside a local restaurant when the incident occurred.

"The boys were arguing when the one boy pulled out the gun and shot the other in his foot," he said.

Read said it is unclear what the boys were arguing about.

"The pupil who fired the shot fled. Police are still searching for him," he said.

The injured boy is in a stable condition.

The SA Institute of Race Relations released a study this week showing that the majority of pupils in the country felt unsafe at school, a finding that was dismissed by the national Education Department.

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