Bullied teen commits suicide

2012-02-21 08:26

Johannesburg - A Grade 10 pupil at the Lethabong Secondary School in Soshanguve north of Pretoria killed himself in an apparent attempt to avoid school bullies, according to a report on Tuesday.

David Hlongwane, 16, had been beaten, repeatedly called names, and had to run to the school's staff room to avoid the onslaught by his peers, The Times newspaper reported.

On February 14, Hlongwane returned home with a letter for his parents requesting that they urgently go to the school the following day to discuss the bullying.

The bullies, including one who had previously been suspended for hitting a teacher, were asked to take the same letter home to their parents.

Favourite song

The next day, Hlongwane pretended to leave for school but instead returned home and hanged himself.

When his stepfather Sam Mabuza returned, he found Hlongwane hanging from the rafters, his favourite gospel song playing in the background.

"He was still breathing. I immediately cut the electric wire with a side cutter and quickly arranged transport to take him to the clinic. He was certified dead on arrival," said Mabuza.

A week later, the chairperson of the school's governing body said he did not know about the suicide.

The Gauteng department of education told the newspaper it would investigate the circumstances of Hlongwane's assault.

According to Gauteng's Childline director Lynne Cawood, bullying was on the increase, but it was difficult to prove as there was little research on the issue.

- Have you experienced school bullying? What can be done to prevent it? Send us your story.

- Childline's 24-hour number: 08000 55 555.

  • Youefoh - 2012-02-21 08:28


      JohhnyBGood - 2012-02-21 08:47

      This is a very sad day. 16 years young and the life is finished. My heart bleeds for the family. It makes one hope that bullies can be held accountable.

      procold2 - 2012-02-21 09:02

      very sad,hope the bullies remember and carry the guilt of this until their dying day

      Janice - 2012-02-21 09:11

      Yes, and one day when they have children of their own, hope they panic every day their child is at school!

      Kacee - 2012-02-21 09:15

      This all ties back to corporal punishment. Bet the bullies get a lot of demerits. That system seems to be working wonders (NOT)

      Sizah - 2012-02-21 09:18

      poor lightie R.I.P

      Lucia - 2012-02-21 09:26

      And the thumb-down person was also a bully at school.... poor guy!

      Mattewis - 2012-02-21 09:55

      Bullying at school is very serious, especially when it gets violent! It's a pity that teachers/principals at schools are forced to put up with it due to the absence of a proper juvenile criminal procedure act. The modern headlines typically read: "juvenile thief/rapist/murderer/ released to the custody of his parents"! Shame, his mommy will tell him how naughty he was and not to do it again. Reform-schools don't exist anymore due to liberal leniency toward youth criminals! Our hearts must "stop bleeding" and our mouths/hands/feet start acting! Take these criminals-in-training and give them thrashings that would make a red-headed step-child feel as if he's loved! I'm sure that beats sending them to prison with the real big-boy bullies, and may even teach them that negative actions have actual real-world consequences!

      Bryan - 2012-02-21 09:59

      How do people thumbs down these comments?? Clearly done by those who were either bullies themselves or are just heartless bastards.. My son was bullied up until a year ago, started mixed martial arts, got into the gym and now the previous bullies walk to the other side of the corridor when they see him... Not because he is violent in anyway but because they know they would get their a$$es kicked if they tried anything now. It's sad that these so-called bullies will only act in packs and are actually the biggest cowards in the school system. To parents, get your kids involved in something to build their confidence and more importantly, keep your eyes and ears wide open for signs of trouble! R.I.P young man.... so sad!!

      FlowingRivers - 2012-02-21 10:06

      HANG THE BLOODY PRINCIPAL..................!

      Youefoh - 2012-02-21 10:09

      Don't worry about the thumbs down people... It's only bored people at work trying to make a fuss on forums, clearly they don't deserve the job they doing. I could go on about their mothers and so on but comment will be removed so ya.

      Mattewis - 2012-02-21 12:29

      @Bryan It's because bullies are cowards that they learn so quickly when you m0er them! What they share out, they can't take! The sad fact is that the way to a bully's heart is through the bruises on his body!

  • Ofentse - 2012-02-21 08:34

    R.I.P Young man

  • karen.glautier - 2012-02-21 08:35

    I am so sad and disheartened by this article. RIP. Condolences to the family. I only hope these bullies are indeed brougt to book. :-(

      Anastasia - 2012-02-21 09:23

      I hope the bullies are dealt with, but I truly hope that their parents are sued in civil court. (I actually wish it was criminal court, but I can't think of any appropriate charges - Apparently raising your child to be an a**ehole or sociopath, is not a crime)

  • Bardy - 2012-02-21 08:35

    I think once a bully has been identified, he/she should be IMMEDIATELY expelled. A child cannot learn/concentrate properly in class when always fearing/thinking about bullies. This is a serious matter which teachers should not take likely.

      Vusi - 2012-02-21 08:37

      I fully agree with you Bardy! They should be expelled!

      Darren - 2012-02-21 08:39

      hear hear!

      Gigo - 2012-02-21 08:52

      I agree Bardy - enough is enough.

      Elle-Black - 2012-02-21 08:55

      @ bardy I agree with you, this child was clearly pushed into a corner and saw no other alternative other than to take his own life, I cannot imagine how desparate he had to be in order to do that

      Jacqueline - 2012-02-21 09:00

      Expelled is much too light a punishment. They should do community service, get therapy or counseling AND be under a certain form of house arrest whilst still attending school but under strict supervision with someone akin to a bodyguard supervising their every move.

      Zee - 2012-02-21 09:02

      many bullies hardly reform and eventually become criminals. these should be brought to book!

      Thelma - 2012-02-21 09:06

      Shame poor child and that he had to go through this hell on a daily basis. Why did the principal and teachers not intervene prior to this happening? This poor child even ran to the staff room to avoid been beaten. Where was the supervision from the school staff? R.I.P David!!!!

      Gerhard - 2012-02-21 09:10

      Bullies need to be expelled and their parents brought in for a good beating. They are ultimately repsonsible for their child's behaviour. My son was being bullied and we spoke to the bully's parents, who simply laughed it off. They didn't laugh for long after their son started going home with the odd black eye and cut lip when I gave my son full permission to fight back.

      Peter - 2012-02-21 09:24

      Only the education department can expell a learner, the governing body can only recomend expulsion. If the education department rejects the recomendation they do not assist the school with the problem. The schools hands are tied, government needs to address this matter more seriously.

      Nokuthula - 2012-02-21 09:34

      @ Bardy ON POINT, they should be expelled and maybe there should be a school just for BULLIES so that they can bully each other all day long. Maybe being on the recieving end would make them think twice about mistreating other kids. EXPERIENCE IS THE BEST TEACHER.

      edward.d.beesley - 2012-02-21 10:24

      Agree with you, Nokuthula (and can't understand who'd be giving thumbs down to these comments??). The problem is that a bully is also a coward and very cunning about how he/she goes about intimidating and hurting others. For example, a bigger boy will furtively get on a smaller boys case in primary school, kick him from behind, steal his pencils, hide his books, smack him in the palyground and run-off, etc. The smaller boy doesn't understand why this is happening, where to find help, and possibly thinks that along with all the other new stuff at school it must be normal to be treated so. The glaring problem here is a LACK OF SUITABLE AND SENSITIVE adult supervison, i.e. the teachers couldn't give a hoot. So it's up to the parents to maintain a very good dialogue with their kids to pick up on this kind of behaviour and support them by contacting the school, the parents of the other child - who normally don't believe what you're telling them because they too were bullies and let them know that if it doesn't stop immediatly they'll be charged for with assault and for aiding and abetting assault. That should receive the desired outcome.

      Rainbow - 2012-02-21 10:40

      I agree. Thanks to extensive bullying in a particular school here in pinetown and the bullying not being adressed by the teachers my son has had to go for councelling and is now in Judo classes to help with his self esteem ( although we havent even reached the tip of the iceberg in dealing with his trauma). All I can say is choose your school carefully make sure you find out if the school has a low tolerance for bullying and make sure it is an evenly mixed ( race) shool where your child is not one of the minority

      Merven - 2012-02-21 10:45

      I think bullies must be criminally charged. How is bullying at school different than assault in the 'adult' word?

      Annemieke - 2012-02-21 11:42

      These bullies were apparantly between the ages of 18 and 20, way past the compulsory school age, so I agree, they should get kicked out. But then, I guess, they will sit around jobless and continue with a life of beating up others, raping women, murdering grannies...

  • Darren - 2012-02-21 08:36

    RIP in peace dude. If my kids are ever bullied…I swear…I'm f'in you up as well as your parents. I'll teach you!

      J-Man - 2012-02-21 08:52


      Thelma - 2012-02-21 09:07

      Me too!

      Merven - 2012-02-21 10:46

      The problem is that children mostly don't tell their parents of the bullying.

  • Sharon - 2012-02-21 08:36

    So sad! Will these bullies realise that this is a direct result of their actions? Probably not. They have succeeded in their objective, and will only move on to their next victim....

  • louis.langenhoven - 2012-02-21 08:37

    Very sad...there was an older and bigger guy who bullied me when I was small. One day my dad (may he RIP) saw him in the street and took him around the corner where I couldn't see what happened. All I know the guy avoided me like the black plague from that day onwards,,,thanks for that dad

      Darren - 2012-02-21 08:40

      hear hear…now that's what I'm talking about.

      Cecile - 2012-02-21 08:53

      Well done Louis' dad ... THAT's the way it should be. If a kid can't cope, it's not an issue of 'too bad' ... DAD (if he's actually around) should step in and have an 'aside' with the bully, who's usually a coward anyway. It's not as if schools will ever get it right, because the majority of teachers simply brush bullying off as 'boys will by boys'. So, well done, dad ....

      Gerhard - 2012-02-21 09:08

      I tried that with my son when he was being bullied by the older kids when he was in grade five. I confronted the bully and also went to the principal and told him I had had enough. I always told my son not to fight back but I told the principal that he will fight back now. This bully was so stupid my son beat the cr@p out of him every day, and the next day, he would come back and try and bully my son again, and he would take another beating again. I realised there is something mentally wrong with bullies. My son is now prefect at primary school and is part of the unofficial "Bully Brigade" that looks out for bullies. It does help that he is by far the biggest boy at school.

      Gerhard - 2012-02-21 09:27

      And the thumbs down must be coming from one of those bullies. Or are you an ex-bully that got one of those bully beat downs?

      Kai - 2012-02-21 10:59

      When my son was in grade 00 his teacher tried to bully him in the first week of school and did manage to reduce him to tears. Next day I went in to her class and reduced her to tears. It only happened the once. We also told her that as he is the smallest in his class if he gets picked on or bullied he has our full permission to hit back and then told her what colour his taekwondo belt was :-)

  • Nasiefa - 2012-02-21 08:37


  • Steph - 2012-02-21 08:38

    that poor boy .....

  • marcus.daily3 - 2012-02-21 08:38

    "The Gauteng department of education told the newspaper it would investigate the circumstances of Hlongwane's assault" What a joke! He was a victim of high school bullies, what more you want to investigate I have no idea! Your mission is to find out why the teachers/principle never delt with this matter with the urgency it deserved!

      Thelma - 2012-02-21 09:10

      My point exactly!!! Where was the principal and teachers when this poor child ran to the staff room for help? Too busy with their own dealings!!!

      PB - 2012-02-21 09:56

      "Investigating" the matter will not solve the problem - it is the implementation of whatever punishment is decided upon that almost never comes to pass. The laws in S.A. are all in favour of criminals/bullies/whatever you want to call them - heaven forbid we touch their 'human rights'. The victims normally have almost no recourse. It is time that everyone stops the neverending TALKING/INVESTIGATING and starts DOING.

      Merven - 2012-02-21 10:47

      Lol, do you think the kids bullied him in front of the teachers? Also sometimes the bullies are the most popular kids in the school, doing good in sport etc. Every teacher's dream pupil.

  • Barry - 2012-02-21 08:40

    Very sad - imagine the mental torment the young lad must have gone through - nothing worse than dreading going to school and being bullied RIP - condolenses to the family

      karen.glautier - 2012-02-21 10:16

      My son is only eight, he cried almostevery morning before getting out of bed, through grade one and two, because of a bully who picked on him. At the beginning of grade three they put te bully in his class again and be burst into tears and cried like a baby. I have approached the school three times, that day I spoke to his teacher who took a personal interest, and he smiles every day now, he actually loves school. Though the boy still pushes him around in pt. I've told my son to punch him in the nose, and if the teachers grab him, he is to tell them to phone me or his father. That first morning this year I drove to work in tears, thinking about children that commit suicide because of bullying, and it broke my heart that I didn't know how to fix this for my son! Parents, do something even if you have to talk to the bully yourself...... just save your children from these little monsters.

  • Napolita - 2012-02-21 08:41

    Oh dear....!!! Just what sort of "research" is Gauteng's Childline director Lynne Cawood looking for? Almost anyone who has been to school, for that matter even in work places, knows that bullies are there!!!

  • John - 2012-02-21 08:44

    A problem which is just not treated seriously enough by the many schools or the parents.

  • Kekeletso Nakeli - 2012-02-21 08:45

    Bullies are the scum of the earth! Rest in peace.

  • Andre - 2012-02-21 08:48

    Where are the teachers?

      Gerhard - 2012-02-21 09:32

      Unfortunately, this bullying is always done when teachers are not around. They are cowardly scum that should all be locked up in Boys Town, with the label "BULLY". They will get sorted out very quickly.

      Jayne - 2012-02-21 10:35

      The teacher was hit by one of these bullies! The problem is if you expel these kids they will be on the streets committing crimes of vandalism and violence. Teachers used to care, just like the nursing profession this used to be a profession done with passion, now it is done for the money and a free ride (generalisation)

      PB - 2012-02-21 11:06

      Andre, what are the teachers allowed to do in punishment? "Write out I WILL NOT BULLY OTHER KIDS" a thousand times"? Since the ruling against corporal punishment came in, they are left with nothing. Most of the parents are also totally unenvolved or overwhelmed by their spoilt brats - good luck in getting reaction out of them.

  • Siphiwo - 2012-02-21 08:48

    I agree with Bardy, drastics measures need to be taken to stop this bullying in our schools. Look at the life lost at a tender age, sad. One will ask a question here, where are the teachers?..SGB?...don't they see these bullying activities in their schools?..where is the principal? if they don't see, then they are not hands on their schools activities..they rely on being told, which to me is a problem.Teachers must wake up before it is too late.

      Riëtte - 2012-02-21 09:17

      I agree with you, but even if they do see what is going on they are not allowed to do much, as you can see from this story, this bully has previously hit a teacher. They can report it to the parents, but that is where it stops.

  • J-Man - 2012-02-21 08:51

    If you bully my child like that, I will knock your f***ing teeth out, show you what its like, don't care how old you are.

  • Stan - 2012-02-21 08:52

    This is the day where you must sit wherever you are and ask yourself this question: "Am I raising a bully"?

      Marike - 2012-02-21 12:38

      Stan, I think that is very true, however - how does one know? It is commonly accepted that (especially amongst girls) the bully is often intelligent, pretty and a type of "Queen Bee". Suppose my daughter is a natural leader and attractive - should I suspect her of bullying behaviour? Of course we should teach our children that bullying is wrong, but how will we know if that has sunk in or not? Are there any signs to look for?

  • Seja - 2012-02-21 08:53

    Well you already know who the responsible bullies are so why not expel them and send them to Boys Town or something?? Schooling system cant afford to have such bullies in it because it negatively affects innocent,decent,bright kids!!

  • ivan.coetzee2 - 2012-02-21 08:53

    R.I.P. this is very sad, why did the teachers and the principals not do anything about this when he ran to their staffroom, surely they could see the gravity of the situation?? Probably couldnt give a shyte!!

  • evdwesthuizen1 - 2012-02-21 08:54

    It is caused by a lack of discipline! Teachers may not discipline the kids anymore and that results in this type of violence toward "weaker" kids. And now this "wonderful" ANC wants to stop us as parents from also disciplining our own kids! Bullying is disgusting!!!

  • ndivhuwo.mukhovha - 2012-02-21 08:54

    If any1 touch my daughter i'll beat the hell out of them. may the beautiful rest in peace. Dept of Education whta's there to investigage, just expell those bullies before de same thing happen again. and the 22 yrs old 1 what is he syill doing in school.

  • Annamrie - 2012-02-21 08:54

    So sad. R.I.P young David.

  • STYLEbudd - 2012-02-21 08:55

    Very sad they need to get to the bottom of this ... could it be homophobic-related? Schools need to put in place a counselling system and a safe place that kids can come to in time of need

  • Ben - 2012-02-21 08:58

    Petty that we're so impressionable and insecure at that age. You look at it now and laugh it off.... But anyways..... 1. School should be held accountable. They should have handled this better. And what the hell is a student doing back at a school after hitting a teacher?! 2. That student needs to be suspended and have a case of harrasment and assault opened against him. Juvenile centre or something. But something tells me the bully's life is gonna turn out crap anyways....

      PB - 2012-02-21 11:10

      Ben, fully agree with point No 2. Schools are at the mercy of the rules from the Department of Education, and they don't want to be seen to prevent anyone from 'getting an education'. Way things are going it is an Education on Crimenality.

  • Princess - 2012-02-21 08:58

    RIP young man, may some comfort be brought to your family. As for those disgusting pigs who caused this, Karma is a terrible and you will get what's going to you

      Princess - 2012-02-21 09:01

      I meant coming to, oops

  • phesh.thaprincess - 2012-02-21 08:58

    This is just horrible! It's SO disturbing, RIP David.

  • Xoli - 2012-02-21 08:59

    I was also bullied at school so I think I have an idea what that boy must have been going through, its tough having to go to school only to become the punching bag of someone else..R.I.P boy

  • Khomotso - 2012-02-21 08:59

    How many lives must be lost befor we stop the bullying. RIP

  • kim.botha3 - 2012-02-21 09:00

    How can the EDU department say that it is difficult to prove bullying as there is little research on the issue. What research do you need? How many more innocent victims need to die before something is done. Stop making excuses!

      Elle-Black - 2012-02-21 09:18

      @ Kim part of the problem is that some peole take up teaching just for the government employee perks and to avoid being jobless it's no longer a passion. My friend's son was also bullied at school and when he tried to get the teacher to intervene he was told that he's a little tattle tale (by the teacher). She had no choice but to move him to another school.

      J-Man - 2012-02-21 11:28

      @ Elle - then that teacher should be held accountable....and pay your friend the costs for the move to the other school.and bliksemd.

      Elle-Black - 2012-02-21 11:35

      @ J-man My friend is too timid to persue something like this she does not do confrontations at all.As foe being compensated that would be in a perfect world, because even in this particular case I know what the outcome of the ïnvestigation will be, "we as the department looked at the facts of the case and found there to be no wrong doing on the part of the teachers or the princial",that's the standrad government answer.

  • mark.p.vrdoljak - 2012-02-21 09:01

    This is the failing of the Dept of Education, because that suspension of the bully was more then likely a expulsion, but the good old Dept forced the school to take him in. Kids are bullying the teachers and other kids, the threaten the teachers even. They get expelled month later their back at school laughing at the teachers and other kids... Expulsion is a joke!

  • Sinudeity - 2012-02-21 09:01

    F*** BULLIES!

  • nelis.visagie - 2012-02-21 09:02

    Bullying is Universal. Here in South Korea same thing happened a few weeks ago. Yesterday the responsible bullies were sentenced to three years in jail. Swift and Quick action is needed to discourage bullies behavbiour. See for the story

      Naseema - 2012-02-21 09:05

      Unfortunately in SA if they can't jail murderers and rapists, there's no way they're going to jail bullies.. the sad truth :-(

  • Wizcom - 2012-02-21 09:09

    Bring back corporal punishment! It worked in the past, why will it not work now??? Teach these bully kids a lesson!!!

  • hcscheepers - 2012-02-21 09:09

    Most bullies are minors - and it is a FACT that bad parenting and difficult home circumstances play a role in a child becoming a bully. - PARENTS should be held accountable for their children's behaviour along with the kids. If parents had to pay compensation to bullied children and do 8 hours community service per week for a year -- they would most likely stop their kids from being hideous little monsters instead of the subtle encouragement or disinterest that many parents of bullies currently manifest.

  • Riëtte - 2012-02-21 09:13

    Bullies are nothing but cowards trying to boost their own image by degrading others, and they should be punished harshly not only expelled, I say charge him with manslaughter, his actions led to this death! RIP young man, and condolences to his family.

  • Nigel - 2012-02-21 09:17

    omg this is a tragic story

  • Sophia Sithebe - 2012-02-21 09:23

    Sad story indeed.bullying is a serious matter that needs to be looked into.

  • Themba Troublemaker Mathenjwa - 2012-02-21 09:25

    Are these not the results of rights confered to learners & responsibilities to teachers & parents? If coporal panishment was still in force were things going to happen as they do now? Teacher no longer have the authority and power to control learnes since they are protected by law. This is the civilized SA with the controvencial justice system. My condolenses to the grieving family.

  • Sean1877 - 2012-02-21 09:30

    Bullies are our future criminals. corpral punishment, how wrong was it?

  • Beryl - 2012-02-21 09:32

    my 17 daughter is receiving phsychiatric treatment for bullying and has lost a year of schooling because of it. Every day is a challenge for her. having changed schools she still has a problem trusting her peers.

  • Stephen - 2012-02-21 09:37

    This is so sad. R.I.P. I hate bullies. We need tougher laws and better policing at schools to punish the kids and the parents responsible for this. The parents of these bullies are just as much to blame as the bullies themselves. Just about every adult who has been through some sort of schooling system knows about bullying. Ignorance from teachers and parents is no excuse. My condolences to David's family.

  • Ross - 2012-02-21 09:39

    How is punching a teacher not an automatic dismissal, they left themselves wide open to a repeat offence by not acting quicker. A life lost because of lack of competence by teachers and the schools governing body...

      Perfume - 2012-02-21 10:06

      I agree!

  • Perfume - 2012-02-21 09:40

    R.I.P David Hlongwane, condolences to his family and friends during this tough time they are facing. I recall when I was in high school, there were a group of girls that would make my life a living hell. I would go home and tell my Mom about it, she would say "whoever the ring leader of this group is, get a hold of her and hit the living daylights out of her, she is only acting strong because she has little puppies cheering her on". I would look at my Mom and think "do you even know the size of these girls". The day came when I was sick and tired of being sick and tired of fearing these girls, my Mom's words rang in my ears, I took a hold of the ring leader and hit her something so bad, her little followers just stood there with shock on their faces. From that day never did she or her little puppies interfere with me again.

  • myfriendshane - 2012-02-21 09:40

    That is so freaking tragic. What a waste of a gentle soul. Bullies and all faulty people will get rid of themselves eventually.

  • Wt - 2012-02-21 09:43

    God won’t bully you...RIP

  • Olivia - 2012-02-21 09:46

    This is very sad to read, this poor child must have been going through hell. R.I.P

  • Mona - 2012-02-21 09:49

    This is really sad!

  • Edward - 2012-02-21 09:50

    RIP Let the bully talk infront of the school how great he feels now!!! moron!

  • Edith-Ann - 2012-02-21 09:52

    SHAME!!! This is sooo sad!!!! R.I.P