Murder in the school yard

2017-08-20 06:02
Kate Chiloane

Kate Chiloane

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Teacher Julian Mboweni (60) recalled how she had taught both Kate Chiloane (now 30) and her husband Vusi Mdluli (now 40) in their lower-grade classes.

But this week she would witness one of her former cherubs fatally shooting the other one on the same school ground where they once had played as children.

She described the incident as spine-chilling and her worst experienced in a school yard since she started her career about 30 years ago.

Fortunately no current pupils witnessed the shooting and killing because it happened close to the administration block and away from classrooms.

Mboweni, now principal of Sediba-Sa-Thuto Primary in Mandela village near Bushbuckridge, was called to intervene when Chiloane – a grade two teacher at the school at the time of her death – and her husband Mdluli had their altercation behind the administration block.

A teacher called her to mediate.

The first thing Mboweni did was to tell Mdluli he had no permission to be on the school premises and she requested him to rather come talk to her in her office.

Mdluli then asked for two more minutes with Chiloane, the principal said. He then whisked out a firearm from his jacket and shot Chiloane who already was fleeing.

“I froze. I saw him shooting at her the first time. The second shot dropped her and then Mdluli shot her in the head,” Mboweni recounted.

Mdluli then left to kill himself at his home with the same firearm belonging to one Given Mokoena, arrested by Mpumalanga police this week.

The police are investigating how Mdluli got hold of the firearm, said provincial spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi.

Mokoena is due to reappear in court on August 29 in connection with the case.

Marital problems

Mboweni said she had only heard rumours about the couple’s problems but Chiloane had not told her anything.

Chiloane’s cousin, Lizzy Nonyane (59), a close friend of hers, said no one had an idea what the source of the couple’s problems in their four-year relationship could be.

But Mdluli posted ominous Facebook posts before the murder.

Nonyane said the couple had been consulting her and other family elders for advice since June, when their quarrels started.

“Kate [Chiloane] only said she was uncomfortable with the way her husband was talking to her … the bad things he was saying to her,” said Nonyane.

“She left their marital home and went back to her parents’ home. We don’t know what else happened or what they spoke to each other on the phone about.

"Kate got a protection order against him [Mdluli] and he approached us again to ask what he had to do now that there was this interdict,” Nonyane explained.

Nonyane said her cousin was insistent that she would not go back to her husband. Chiloane then remained at her parental home and still lived there on the fateful day.

Brigadier Hlathi said that he was not aware of the protection order that Chiloane had allegedly obtained about three months ago.

According to Nonyane, Mdluli was always respectful towards his wife. He had just been keen to sort things out and get her back home, she explained.

But Chiloane’s childhood friend and colleague, Fortunate Mkasi (30), admitted she had been troubled by the couple’s quarrels. However, even she, like Nonyane, did not know the source of the marital problems.

The only evidence, though untested, would be Mdluli’s Facebook posts which hinted at infidelity on Chiloane’s part and his “broken heart”.

Mkasi confessed she had been terrified a sinister event might befall her friend.

“She told me every day that I must check the Facebook posts. I knew that something bad was going to happen, but I didn’t know it was going to be like this.”

She was referring to a message in Sesotho which spoke about the end of adultery being the grave.

“I was scared, because I thought he [Mdluli] was suspecting that I, as Kate’s friend, knew their problems.

"[But] all she told me was that she had problems with her husband and that he [Mdluli] was begging her to return home,” Mkasi added.

Meanwhile, the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union in Mpumalanga called on the department of education to provide security guards in schools.

Principal Mboweni said she also began discussions with the school governing body to ensure there would be at least one security guard to protect teachers.


What can be done by the schools to prevent femicide or intimidation of teachers by spouses and partners?

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