Principal shot in mystery attack

2011-07-28 00:00

SCORES of pupils and their teachers looked on in horror as their principal was shot at close range on Tuesday morning.

A group of about 70 pupils at Nkayishana Primary School in Cramond outside Pietermaritzburg were in the assembly hall singing hymns in preparation for the morning prayer at about 8 am when a gun-wielding man shot their principal, Thulani Gasa.

The gunman pushed open the door of the staff room while Gasa was holding a staff meeting with five teachers.

Said one of the teachers, “As we were busy with the meeting the man pushed the door open, and we saw him holding a firearm with his right hand.

“He fired a shot straight at the principal before he went out.

“We ran to take cover in the kitchen, screaming in shock.

“He entered again and fired another shot at the principal before he disappeared.”

Gasa was wounded in the jaw and ribs.

He was taken to hospital.

A witness said that after the shooting the man took off his navy jacket and dumped it on the school’s soccer field before running into a nearby forest.

“On hearing the shots, the young pupils screamed while trying to jump over a high fence to escape,” said a teacher.

When The Witness visited the school at about 2 pm yesterday fewer than 10 pupils were seen gathering in the assembly area for the end-of-the-day prayer.

Only two teachers seemed to be in attendance.

A teacher said, “All other pupils and teachers stayed away because they fear for their lives since the assailant has not been apprehended.

“I’m also scared, and if I see my name in your newspaper I will resign from my work because I don’t want to be killed.”

Teachers said the gunman first came to the school on Monday morning asking for Gasa.

Said one, “He asked for the principal and when we told him that the principal was away he said he wanted the principal to offer him a plumbing job or any other jobs available.

“On hearing that the principal was away he promised to return yesterday.”

A member of the school governing body, who asked to remain anonymous, said the attacker arrived in the area in a blue vehicle with Pietermaritzburg registration plates.

“Members of the governing body spent the whole day at the school trying to protect our teachers, although we are also scared. Only if the man can be arrested will we be relieved.”

Gasa’s wife, Phumlile, said her husband is recovering and the family are praying for his speedy recovery.

“We really don’t know the cause of the attack and we hope police will find answers. It is a serious problem that the attacker has not been arrested,” she said.

Education Department spokesperson Mbali Thusi said the department is arranging counselling for teachers and pupils.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan said police are still trying to establish the motive.

She appealed to anyone with information about the attack to call Warrant Officer Aaron Mchunu at 033 569 1666 or 083 392 7863.

Anonymous callers should call Crime Stop’s toll-free at 08600 10111.

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