Bullied teen commits suicide

2012-02-21 08:26
Johannesburg - A Grade 10 pupil at the Lethabong Secondary School in Soshanguve north of Pretoria killed himself in an apparent attempt to avoid school bullies, according to a report on Tuesday.

David Hlongwane, 16, had been beaten, repeatedly called names, and had to run to the school's staff room to avoid the onslaught by his peers, The Times newspaper reported.

On February 14, Hlongwane returned home with a letter for his parents requesting that they urgently go to the school the following day to discuss the bullying.

The bullies, including one who had previously been suspended for hitting a teacher, were asked to take the same letter home to their parents.

Favourite song

The next day, Hlongwane pretended to leave for school but instead returned home and hanged himself.

When his stepfather Sam Mabuza returned, he found Hlongwane hanging from the rafters, his favourite gospel song playing in the background.

"He was still breathing. I immediately cut the electric wire with a side cutter and quickly arranged transport to take him to the clinic. He was certified dead on arrival," said Mabuza.

A week later, the chairperson of the school's governing body said he did not know about the suicide.

The Gauteng department of education told the newspaper it would investigate the circumstances of Hlongwane's assault.

According to Gauteng's Childline director Lynne Cawood, bullying was on the increase, but it was difficult to prove as there was little research on the issue.

- Have you experienced school bullying? What can be done to prevent it? Send us your story.

- Childline's 24-hour number: 08000 55 555.

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