I did not send him to school to be killed - mother of slain boy

Thohoyandou - The family of an 11-year-old boy who was shot dead, apparently for passing Grade 5, have called for the family of the 10-year-old arrested in connection with the murder to be evicted from their village in Limpopo.

The deceased, Gundo Mamatho, was shot in the head in Maniini village near Thohoyandou on Friday afternoon and rushed to Tshilidzini Hospital, where he died a day later.

Following the shooting on Friday, police arrested his friend, who cannot be named because he is still a minor. It is alleged the boy shot Gundo because Gundo had passed Grade 5, while he had failed.

'Rot in jail'

However, Gundo's mother, Elelwani Mathego, wants the 10-year-old boy to "rot in jail" and for his family to be evicted from Maniini.

"My son's death is very painful because I thought by sending him to school one day he would eradicate the poverty that is in this family. I did not send him to school to be killed. What bothers me a lot is that the family of this boy who killed my son haven't come to apologise for what their son did. It shows that they condone it because he has killed a dog, not a human being," said a weeping Mathego.

Mathego said she and the boy's father, Ntshaveleni Mamatho, were both unemployed.

"I want justice to be done. I want to see him rot in jail and his family being chased away from the community. We don't even have money for burial because no one in the family is employed. His father, who was the breadwinner of the family, was recently retrenched from work. We ask for Good Samaritans to help us with money for our son's burial," said Mathego.

Gundo's brother, Mulalo Mamatho, said no one ever foresaw what would happen to the 11-year-old.

"As a family we are saddened by my younger brother's death. We wanted to see him grow up to be a fine young man because he loved school. I feel like I have lost a friend because we used to play soccer and watch TV together," he said.

Shock

Gundo's schoolmate, Nancy Machoba, 14, said the boy's death shocked all pupils at Maniini Primary School, where Gundo was enrolled.

"We are still in shock because the deceased and the suspect were best friends. They loved playing soccer and cards together. They were always together during school break and after school. We feel very sad about what happened to our fellow learner. We feel we are no longer safe here because some people can bring weapons to the school and shoot at will," she said.

An uncle of the accused boy told a News24 Correspondent that his own family was seriously traumatised because of the unforeseen incident.

"As the family we are so devastated about what has happened. We are asking ourselves a lot of questions, just like everyone else. Where did our boy get the gun and how could he kill another pupil?" said the uncle, whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of the accused.

The uncle said none of their family members owned a gun.

"We are sad because the boy is still young and prison will ruin his life forever. You know that the state of prisons in South Africa is very bad," he added.

Condolences

The accused's grandmother and guardian, whose name is also being withheld, said she couldn't measure her shock.

"I'm just a domestic worker who was taking care of this boy. I am so shocked to learn that he has killed another child. The worst part is that they are friends. We feel sorry for Gundo's family because of what happened to their son. We send our heartfelt condolences to them," she said.

The grandmother could not commit to her family visiting the Gundo family.

She said the boy's mother was working at a farm far away from the village. The boy is currently in the care of the state.

Limpopo education department spokesperson Dr Naledzani Rasila said the department was sad to learn about the tragic incident.

"We send our condolences to the family of the deceased. We don't condone violence in our schools or the carrying of weapons to our schools. Every school should remain a place of learning and a safe environment for our children," he said.

The department will send social workers to counsel pupils at Maniini Primary School.

Thohoyandou police spokesperson Major Mashudu Malelo was not available for comment on Tuesday morning as his phone rang unanswered.

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