School boy dies in ‘footpath war’

2012-03-20 00:00

IT was a turf war over a footpath and now a Sweetwaters pupil who hoped to play for Maritzburg United is dead, his friend injured and two school mates under arrest.

The attack happened on Friday on a path used as a short cut to Siyanda High School and was apparently related to ongoing tension between boys from the Mbutshane and Madwaleni areas.

The Madwaleni boys apparently staked their claim to Siyanda High, which is nearer to them, and told their Mbutshane peers that they were not welcome at the school.

Phendulani Hlela yesterday lamented that his son’s friend, Xolani Ndlovu (18) who was stabbed to death, had died “for nothing”.

Hlela’s son Lindokuhle (17) was seriously injured, but was discharged from hospital yesterday.

“We have had enough of this turf war rubbish; it’s not something to die for,” said Hlela.

Police confirmed that two Si­yanda High School pupils, aged 15 and 20, were arrested.

Lindokuhle, who along with his late friend comes from Mbutshane, told The Witness the dispute began on Wednesday over the footpath.

“We were walking home after school when we encountered one of the pupils. He told me to move but I refused and an argument ensued.”

The argument continued on Thursday and Friday.

“On Friday, some of his friends joined in the dispute and they called me out and we argued again.”

Lindokuhle said the boy with whom he had initially argued had apologised and he believed the matter had been resolved.

“After school as we were walking home with other boys from Mbutshane, we saw this guy and three others blocking the foot way.

“We expected that there would be a fist fight, but we did not think that they were carrying knives,” he said.

Lindokuhle said one of the boys ordered the pupil he had argued with to slap him, but the pupil refused because they had settled their differences.

“This guy slapped his friend and then slapped me. As I tried to defend myself, he pulled a knife.”

Lindokuhle said he did not realise that he had been stabbed.

Another friend who had spotted the knife pulled him away and they fled.

However, Xolani was left behind and tried to fight.

He was stabbed in the chest, arm and reportedly in the back.

A car was summoned to take him to hospital, but he died on the way.

Xolani’s brother, Enoch Ndlovu, said the family was deeply saddened by his death.

“When we arrived at the hospital, we found him already covered up. He had a big stab wound on his chest next to the heart and another in his arm.”

He described his brother as a well mannered teenager who loved soccer and dreamed of playing for Maritzburg United.

Education MEC Senzo Mchunu said boys had been creating unsafe environments for girls and teachers in schools across KwaZulu-Natal when they should have been ensuring safety.

“This is the same situation as in Mandlenkosi [in the Ntuzuma area] where a pupil was stabbed to death by another pupil,” he said.

Mchunu warned against pupils taking weapons to school, saying they risked being banned from studying in any school in the pro­ince.

Local chief Inkosi Nsikayezwe Zondi said he had been informed of the incident and had dispatched one of his headmen to investigate.

“This is unacceptable, if that [turf war] is true. It cannot be allowed to continue because it has the potential to create factional fights.”

He said the community had the responsibility to report such matters to their traditional authority so they could be curbed before much damage is done.

Local councillor Simon Sokhela said the community had arrested the suspects and handed them over to the police.

Professor Volker Wedekind, deputy dean of the continuing education sector at UKZN’s Faculty of Education, said he was not in a position to comment on the case as he was not aware of the details.

However, schools were often a reflection of society and there were interventions that could be made to prevent what was happening outside from influencing the school, he said.

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