7 school stabbings that shocked SA since the beginning of the school year

2019-06-13 06:00
A memorial service was held for 16-year-old Daniel Bakwela at Forest High school in Johannesburg on Tuesday. Bakwela was allegedly stabbed to death by fellow pupil Mohammed Mwela, 19, last Monday. (Sesona Ngqakamba, News24)

A memorial service was held for 16-year-old Daniel Bakwela at Forest High school in Johannesburg on Tuesday. Bakwela was allegedly stabbed to death by fellow pupil Mohammed Mwela, 19, last Monday. (Sesona Ngqakamba, News24)

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The stabbing to death of a 16-year-old Grade 8 pupil at a Johannesburg school has again highlighted the prevalence of violence in South African schools. 

study by the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention (CJCP) has shown that violence is widespread in South African schools.

"One in five secondary school learners – a total of 22.2% – has experienced violence while at school in the 12 months between August 2011 and August 2012. This translates to just over a million learners (1 020 597) across the country," according to the study. 

"Most of the violence is in the form of bullying as well as psychological violence. The problem is that it can escalate and that is where the danger lies. If that behaviour is not recognised by teachers or addressed by the school, with no interventions provided to children, then those situations can escalate into violence that is much more harmful," Patrick Burton, the CJCP's executive director, told News24

In 2016, the Birth to Twenty Plus (Bt20+) study, led by the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development at Wits University, found, among other findings, that 99% of all children have witnessed or have been victims of violence in their home, school and/or community, with 36% reporting that they had been victims of all categories of violence studied.

READ: Violence in SA's schools is worse than you think, and spanking is part of the problem

This violence has manifested itself in seven reported school stabbings in the past six months. 

1. Forest High School, Johannesburg

On Monday, June 3, an altercation broke out between four boys at Forest High School in Turffontein, Johannesburg. In what has been reported as a gang-related incident, Grade 8 pupil Daniel Bakwela, 16, was stabbed to death, allegedly while attacking fellow pupil Mohammed Mwela with two other pupils who were hospitalised following the incident. 

Mwela, who claims to have been defending himself, has since been released on R5 000 bail and will continue his exams at a different school.

According to a report by The Star, the school is "a prison" where gangs thrive, and younger boys are allegedly forced to perform sexual acts on older pupils.

"This school should be called 'Forest High Correctional Service'. When you go to the toilet, the older guys tell you that this is not a place for small boys and you are forced to pay money," one pupil told the newspaper.

"They also tell you to massage their penises and make them ejaculate. Almost 99% of the school is either on weed or some kind of a drug," another pupil reportedly said.

According to another pupil, two rival gangs – the South Top Kids and Italian Destruction Vele – have members inside and outside the school.

The case against Mwela was postponed to July 10. 

2. Ga-Mamabolo, Polokwane

On May 21, a 15-year-old was arrested in connection with the fatal stabbing of a fellow pupil at a school in Ga-Mamabolo, outside Polokwane.

The incident happened just before 10:30.

The suspect is alleged to have stabbed the fellow pupil, 16, during a fight.

"It is alleged that the two learners had a fight while playing within the school premises and subsequently, the suspect produced a sharp instrument and stabbed the deceased before fleeing from the scene," said provincial police spokesperson Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe.

The 16-year-old was taken to hospital but declared dead on arrival.

Police found the murder weapon hidden on top of a small hill outside the village.

3. Mondeor High School, Johannesburg

On March 13, Grade 11 pupil Kulani Mathebula, 19, died after being stabbed outside the school. 

Detectives followed up on information from the scene shortly afterwards, which led them to another school in Mondeor, where the 13-year-old suspect was a pupil. The teenager was arrested that afternoon.

Two more suspects were also arrested the next day.

"The suspects, both aged 15, were arrested in Soweto and Naturena," police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubele said.

"The deceased, who was on his way to school, was attacked and stabbed to death by three schoolboys from a nearby school in the area," said Makhubele.

4. Heather Secondary School, Pietermaritzburg

On February 4, a Heather Secondary School pupil was stabbed by a schoolmate outside the school following a brief but violent altercation.

A witness told The Witness that the pupil, who was stabbed, had made a comment about the race of a girl's boyfriend. He took offence and stabbed the other boy in the left arm.

A video of the incident, which had been widely shared on social media, shows a boy walking away with his white matric jersey covered in blood spatters, while the other boy is seen grasping his bloodied left arm in agony.

The 16-year-old was stabbed seven times. The accused was also injured during the scuffle, appearing in court with his left arm in a cast.

The Maritzburg Fever confirmed that both pupils involved in the altercation had been expelled from the school.

The accused, who had been charged with attempted murder, was granted an order of release from police custody and was placed in the care of a guardian.

5. Tlhabane Technical School, Rustenburg

On March 13, a teenage girl was hospitalised after being stabbed at Tlhabane Technical School in Tlhabane.

Provincial police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Amanda Funani said the girl, 13, was found unconscious and lying in a pool of blood in the school’s toilet.

"A group of pupils were going to the girls' toilet around 10:30 when they made the shocking discovery. They found their fellow pupil lying unconscious in a pool of blood. The pupil was stabbed in the stomach."

Funani said it was not known when exactly the Grade 8 pupil was stabbed, but police investigators suspect that she could have been attacked between 10:00 and 10:30.

She added that upon making the discovery, the group of pupils quickly alerted their teachers who summoned both the police and paramedics. The injured girl was then rushed to a local hospital.

Funani said no one had been arrested yet and police were investigating a case of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

6. Mateane Primary School, Diretsane, North West

At around 10:30 on February 26,  a 13-year-old pupil allegedly used a pair of scissors to stab his 14-year-old classmate to death.

"It is alleged that two Grade 5 learners were fighting and one of them was the suspect's friend. The suspect allegedly tried to separate the two and as he was trying to separate them, the deceased attacked him," provincial police spokesperson Captain Sam Tselanyane said.

The 13-year-old allegedly retaliated and stabbed his classmate to death.

Tselenyane said the victim was taken to Atamelang Clinic, where he was declared dead on arrival.

The 13-year-old has been arrested.

"He was detained at the Bosasa Child and Youth Care Centre, where he as assessed by social workers, in accordance with the Child Justice Act," Tselanyane said.

7. Lentegeur High School, Mitchells Plain

Two pupils were seriously injured at Lentegeur High School in Cape Town after two schoolmates allegedly stabbed them on the premises on February 11.

According to education department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond, the attack happened just before the school day started.

The victims are in grades 10 and 11, while the alleged perpetrators are in grades 9 and 11.

"Emergency security was arranged and counselling has been offered to both educators and learners," said Hammond.

She added that the department and school community were concerned by what had happened.

ALSO READ: Violence and killing at SA schools: These stories shocked us in 2018 

In her address at the second School Safety Summit in October last year, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said: "The high level of violence in schools reflects a complicated combination of past history and recent stresses on individuals, schools, and broader communities. Sadly, no amount of state-of-the-art security measures will rid our society of this scourge. We need to talk. We need to heal as a nation."

On Tuesday, at a memorial service at Forest High School in Johannesburg, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said: "There is no child that is born ill-disciplined. Why are we such an ill-disciplined nation? A nation that believes it can resolve problems through violence. An eye for an eye makes all of us blind." 

Lesufi said it was better to have a battle of ideas than a battle of weapons.

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