Durban – The Department of Education in KwaZulu-Natal has called on parents, communities and all other stakeholders to come together to combat school bullying.
"We are very much disturbed by this kind of continued violence that we see happening in our schools. As the department of education, it is not a matter we can address alone," department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi told News24 on Wednesday.
"We need [the] support of parents and communities. This has to be multi-pronged."
Mahlambi made the statement following a video that emerged online this week, showing a street brawl between two groups of boys allegedly from Palmview and Woodview Secondary Schools in Phoenix, Durban.
The video gained traction on multiple social media platforms, with many expressing disgust at the savagery and violence displayed by the youngsters.
It is not clear when the brawl took place.
In the video, two boys begin kicking and punching another boy in the head. Pupils can be heard jeering in the background as the youngsters land devastating blows to the back of the boy's head.
After he falls to the ground, the duo increase their ferocity and focus their attack on the boy's head, repeatedly punching him while pulling his shirt.
Two more youngsters join in kicking the boy as he lies on the ground clutching his head. The assault halts after a car stops and a man exits the vehicle to break up the fight.
Mahlambi said that the department was aware of the incident and would be investigating the matter.
He, however, urged the community and parents to become more active in curbing bullying at schools.
"As you can see, you say it happened outside school. The boys were, however, in full school uniform. We obviously cannot police the youngsters all the time. This is why we are calling on the community to come forward and also help."
Mahlambi said the department was working with police. He said he feared bullying could escalate.
"This sometimes starts small but grows. With boys involved, we find they always want to settle a score. Sometimes they can bring weapons like guns and knives. We must, as communities, start asking: Why are they like this and where do they get weapons from?"
Mahlambi said the department had also witnessed situations where siblings and families become involved in school bullying fights.
"It then begins to breed serious problems and create[s] faction fighting in the area."
He urged parents to take any form of bullying seriously.
"Do not take small issues for granted. Don’t tell your boys to 'be a man'. Take it seriously as parents. Even if someone takes your child's sandwich, report that. We do not want these situations to escalate. We need to find solutions together."
Mahlambi said the department was prioritising the incident and would soon take action against the perpetrators in the video.
"We will take disciplinary actions. We want to set an example here. We will also take actions against [the] boys shouting and filming. They are equally guilty."
He added: "It must be noted, these incidents don't just emanate from school, but also from home."