Chaos, arrests at city school

2017-10-19 13:45
A security guard stands at the gate of Eastwood Secondary School after 34 pupils were arrested when celebrations on the last day of classes allegedly turned violent on Tuesday.

A security guard stands at the gate of Eastwood Secondary School after 34 pupils were arrested when celebrations on the last day of classes allegedly turned violent on Tuesday. (Ian Carbutt)

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Thirty-four Eastwood High School pupils were arrested when celebrations on the last day of classes allegedly turned violent.

Eighteen of the pupils are still in custody after failing to get bail in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.

It is alleged that the traditional end of year high jinks got out of hand when stones were thrown and a pupil’s thumb was severed. Condoms filled with urine and faeces and eggs were thrown at teachers and other pupils.

Police said a pupil’s hand had been injured by a sharp object, allegedly a knife, and they were rushed to hospital.

School vehicles and buildings were damaged in the chaos.

Police said on Wednesday night that “the situation at the school is tense and is being very closely monitored due to death threats against the educators”.

A statement released on Wednesday night added that the school had received a bomb threat. It said the Mountain Rise police had responded to a complaint of “unruly behaviour” on Tuesday.

“Police brought the situation under control and arrested 34 suspects aged between 14 and 20.”

Eighteen were detained overnight and appeared in court on Wednesday before magistrate M. Boikhutso.

They were granted legal aid but state prosecutor Rene Padayachee said they could not be released on bail until it was proved that all of them were pupils at the school and their addresses had been checked.

After being told that the pupils were due to start writing exams next Tuesday, October 24, Padayachee said the question that must be asked is why they were allegedly involved in “damaging school property” at such a time.

Boikhutso remanded all 18 in custody pending a bail hearing on Monday, October 23.

The pupils filed out of court with glum faces.

The charge sheet reflects that all 18 are charged with public violence for allegedly “throwing stones damaging school windows and vehicles, throwing condoms with urine and faeces in school premises as well as injuring a fellow learner by slamming a window onto his hand, severing his thumb”.

The others, who were all under 18, were released into the custody of their parents and their case was also adjourned until Monday.

The mother of one of the pupils who were arrested told The Witness her son in Grade 12 and his classmates had been celebrating the last day of attending classes when “things got out of hand”.

“It’s a school custom, it’s done every year. They were throwing eggs, balloons and condoms filled with water and Jeyes fluid at their friends and the principal called the police on them.”

She said the pupils ran away and tried to hide in bushes and were chased and “brutally” arrested by the police, who also allegedly sprayed teargas at the pupils.

The parent of a 14-year-old Grade 9 boy said her son was arrested in Cinderella Park while walking to the shops. She alleged that her son had arrived home and changed out of his school uniform into ordinary clothes.

“As he was walking to the shop a police van stopped and asked him if he was an Eastwood High pupil and then arrested him. He didn’t do anything,” she said.

The parents said they were notified via SMS that their children had been arrested and were detained at the Mountain Rise police station.

KZN Education spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said the department was not aware of the incident and the district has requested a report from the school, which they are still awaiting.

After attending the court case on Wednesday morning, some parents went to the school in an attempt to plead with the principal to drop the charges against the pupils.

“My child was released because he’s a minor but we are here to stand in solidarity as parents and plead with the principal to drop the charges before the pupils are transferred to Westville Prison and New Prison later today [on Wednesday],” said one of the parents.

The principal was called but he did not meet with the parents.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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