Tragic start to school year in Gauteng with 13 pupils lost

2020-02-16 09:30
Antoinette Mpianzi is comforted by family members during a site inspection at the Nyati Bush and River Break lodge near Brits in North West where her son, Enock Mpianzi's body was found.

Antoinette Mpianzi is comforted by family members during a site inspection at the Nyati Bush and River Break lodge near Brits in North West where her son, Enock Mpianzi's body was found. (Chanté Schatz)

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It's been a difficult start to the 2020 school calendar for Gauteng, with several pupils dying in various tragic accidents. 

On Friday, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, speaking at a memorial service for Kelebogile Molopyane, who died earlier in the week, said he had run out of words to comfort those who had lost a child.

He pleaded for divine intervention to end the deaths of pupils in the province.

"We said to our creator that, if you are sending a message to us, we have accepted it. We plead with you God that he must be the last person.

Since the new term got underway, 13 pupils have lost their lives. 

1. Enock Mpianzi

Parktown Boy's pupil Enock Mpianzi, 13, was swept away in the Crocodile River while attending a Grade 8 orientation camp at Nyati Bush and River Break lodge near Brits in North West on January 15.

He was last seen when a makeshift raft he and other boys were on overturned in the river, just hours after arriving at the camp.

His body was discovered two days later after a search, which was started the day after the drowning.

He was laid to rest on February 1.

The school's principal, Malcolm Williams, has been suspended pending the investigation into the matter.

2. Keamohetswe Shaun Seboko 

On the day Mpianzi's body was found it emerged that Grade 7 pupil Keamohetswe Shaun Sebeko, 13, had been found drowned in the hostel swimming pool at Laerskool Bekker on 15 January. 

Seboko's family believe that there may have been an element of bullying involved in his death after marks were found on his body. 

"There are a lot of things that are questionable, but the school can't give answers," his aunt, Kgothatso Stayi, said.

The department has appointed a law firm, Ndobela Lamola Inc (Attorneys), to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death and to report on the findings soon, News24 reported.

Police are also investigating.

3. Laticia Princes Jansen 

On January 22, the body of Grade 9 pupil Laticia Princes Jansen, 15, from Graceland Education Centre in Elsburg, Germiston, was found in the bushes. She had been raped, stabbed and burnt to death. 

Jansen and some of her peers had allegedly been left behind by the school's transport earlier that day and had walked home, News24 reported.

After her death, the principal of the Graceland Education Centre was moved to another post immediately. 

4.  Radino Primary school pupil 

On February 4, a 9-year-old pupil from Radino Primary school died at a clinic after vomiting in class. Further details were not provided by the department.  

5. Bophelong Secondary school pupil 

On the same day, another pupil from Bophelong Secondary School died. Circumstances around the death are being investigated, but no further details were provided from the department to explain what happened on February 4 to the Grade 8 pupil.  

6. Belvedere Special School pupil 

A Grade 1 pupil from Belvedere Special School died on February 4 when they drank poison after arriving home from school. 

7. Kudube Primary school pupil 

A Grade 1 pupil died on February 5 after a goal post collapsed on him while he was waiting for scholar transport. He was rushed to Jubilee Hospital, where he later died. 

8. Thutokitso Secondary School pupil 

A Grade 8 Thutokitso Secondary School pupil died after a Grade 12 from Fochville Secondary School stabbed him on February 7. Police are investigating the incident. 

9. Oosrand Secondary School pupil 

A 17-year-old Grade 12 Oosrand Secondary School pupil died on February 8 when she jumped from a moving minibus taxi in Germiston, after she was allegedly assaulted by fellow passengers. Police are investigating the incident, News24 reported.  

10. Lindiwe Golelmin

Lindiwe Golemin, 8, who attended Durban Deep Primary, drowned after she was swept away in flash floods at the Princess informal settlement in Roodepoort on February 8. Lindiwe died while crossing a stream near her home. Her mother Maria said she was trying to cross a makeshift wooden bridge with her older sister when she was swept away, News24 reported. 

11. Tharabollo Secondary school pupil 

A Grade 11 pupil at the Tharabollo Secondary School in Vereeniging apparently committed suicide by drinking poison at home on February 9. She was rushed to the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, where she was certified dead on arrival. 

"Unfortunately, it is unknown what prompted the deceased learner to commit suicide. The police are investigating circumstances surrounding this unfortunate incident," Gauteng education spokesperson Steve Mabona said.

12. Kelebogile Reuben Molopyane 

Grade 10 pupil Kelebogile Reuben Molopyane, 16, died on February 11 after he fell from the third floor of Ferndale High School following an epiletic seizure. 

Molopyane's teacher Vusi Malevu said: "Molopyane means I am grateful or thankful. It is surprising how people always follow their names. He lived his life with an amazing sense of gratitude.

"I was fortunate to be his class teacher. He was an extraordinary person, full of life, hope and spirit to the very end, despite his illness. He had a smile that will [light] up the room," she said at his memorial service on Friday, News24 reported. 

He was laid to rest on Saturday, February 15. 

13. Lenogang Thokwane Mphahele  

Grade 6 pupil Lebogang Thokwane Mphahlele, 11, from Raikana Primary School died on February 11 after she was hit by a car driven by a teacher from Arethabeng Primary School. Her funeral will take place on February 23. 

- Compiled by Vanessa Banton.

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