Eastwood Secondary on edge

2019-10-22 13:03
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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Teachers at the embattled Eastwood Secondary School have expressed concern over their safety while police have called for calm after several rumours about revenge attacks surfaced on social media.

A large group of parents have taken to being present at the school during the mornings and afternoons when pupils arrive and leave, while others are involved in patrolling the school premises during the day.

The discovery of the body of 29-year-old Zandile Innocent Malinga on Bishopstowe Road on Sunday morning sparked rumours that he was killed in a revenge attack.

Police said Malinga’s death was unrelated, and happened in an accident that was not reported.

Last week, 18-year-old Hershel Fynn was stabbed six times and died outside the school while three others were hospitalised with injuries sustained in the incident, described as the worst episode of violence at the school.

It is believed that Fynn was cornered by a group of fellow pupils after he confronted boys who had allegedly stabbed a female pupil on the Monday.

The girl was apparently stabbed after she had pelted her attackers during the school’s annual “bombing” ritual — an event which takes place when matrics finish their last day of school before exams.

The ritual has since been banned, according to school governing body (SGB) chairperson Roy Ram.

He said teachers had expressed their concern yesterday morning over their safety at the school. He said they were holding meetings with the teachers and the Department of Education for a way forward following the incident.

“The teachers want to be redeployed to other areas as they are concerned for their safety.

“They feel that if this could happen to a child who was protecting another child, they were in grave danger and could not fulfil their roles and duties as teachers. We are currently trying to find an amicable solution,” said Ram.

He added that they would be adding more CCTV cameras at the school and that police were present from the beginning to the end of the school day.

Ram said he was inundated with calls from parents and members of the community after social media was rife with allegations that there were revenge attacks and gunshots fired outside the school yesterday morning.

He dismissed the allegations.

Security sources said they had investigated and found that the “gunshots” were youngsters letting off fireworks and there was no revenge attack.

“We followed through with information received and found that there was no drive-by shooting as alleged and neither were there gunshots fired at or near the school.

“Instead it was just fireworks being let off in the neighbourhood. We call for calm but we are also grateful that the community is rallying together and taking notice of these little things so we can investigate and allay their fears.

“We heard all kinds of rumours that the person who died in the revenge attack was the one carrying the panga in Fynn’s incident — but we could not associate the incidents,” said the security source.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joshua Maistry said the discovery of a body in the middle of the Bishopstowe main road opposite the Tamboville informal settlement set off social media rumours that the body was that of a man killed in revenge for Fynn’s death.

He said the body was identified by a family member as that of Malinga, who lived in Glenwood and investigations revealed he had been killed in a hit-and-run accident on Saturday evening that was not reported at the time.

“His death has no bearing on the violence and killing of a learner that took place last week. We would like to sensitise the community of Eastwood, Glenwood, Cinderella Park, Tamboville and Madiba informal settlement to please refrain from circulating false information on social media.

“Some people have sent out pictures, typed messages and voice messages spreading false rumours that is creating fears and great concern to others residing in the area,” said Maistry.

He said the community was urged to make contact with the police to confirm any rumours and messages before disseminating them. 

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg
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