Child commits suicide after unhappiness at school

2009-09-07 00:00

THE thought of returning to a school where his teacher allegedly picked on him constantly and made him feel he did not belong in her class led a Scottsville Primary pupil to kill himself yesterday morning.

The body of Nduduzo Phiwokuhle Qunu, known to his friends as Sna, was found by his four-year-old sister hanging from a beam in the outbuilding of their Panorama Gardens home. He turned 13 on Friday, August 28.

Not only is his mother, Nolwazi Dlamini, bereft, but Sna had a second family who were equally inconsolable last night. On weekdays he lived with Marsha Steyn and her family who run the Tinkie Winkie Boarding School in Scottsville.

Steyn said Sna was in grade 5 and she never understood why his teacher did not like him.

“She used to hammer him, she was always complaining about him. She said he did not do his homework, but I used to sign his homework book and it was done. There were problems at times, but I used to write a note.

“In the end, it seemed she just never gave him the time of day. He used to cry that he did not want to go to school.”

Steyn informed Sna’s mother, who said she would speak to the school principal.

Dlamini said she saw Scottsville principal Bobby Nefdt on Monday, August 31. “I asked him to sort out the matter and take my child out of the class if need be.

“He asked me if I wanted to speak to the teacher, but I was so angry and afraid I would say the wrong things to her so I told him I did not want to see her and that he must sort it out.”

Despite repeated attempts, The Witness was unable to contact the principal last night. The mother continued: “I thought everything was okay. Then this morning Sna gave me a form while I was doing the washing. It was to mark whether he will be returning to the school next year. He said: ‘I am not going back to that school. The teacher doesn’t want me there’.

“I told him he must finish his primary schooling in Scottsville. I said: ‘Don’t worry, next year you won’t have the same teacher’.”

Dlamini said her son went and lay on his bed. After a while he went outside. “I thought he had gone to play with a friend, until my four-year-old ran to me and said: ‘Come and see, Sna is wetting his pants’. I ran to the outbuilding and found him hanging from the extension cord.”

Her screams alerted the neighbours, who helped her rush her son to Midlands Hospital where he died. According to neighbours, the whole incident took place in a matter of hours. They first heard Dlamini screaming just after 10.30 am. She returned from the hospital just after noon and was crying hysterically that her son had died.

She was saying over and over again, “I didn’t listen to him, I didn’t listen to him”, they said. Steyn said the picture that will stay with her is how happy Sna was at his birthday party last Monday. “He was a loving child and never rebellious. He’d bath early and come out singing. He was always singing and he would help keep the younger children occupied while everyone got ready for supper.

“We are struggling to come to terms with his death. We are going to miss him. What a waste of a beautiful young life.” ANC Member of Parliament Pastor Vusi Dube, who was with the family yesterday, said he will go with them to the school today to try to understand what went wrong.

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