Violence and killing at SA schools: These stories shocked us in 2018

2018-11-22 11:15
School desks. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

School desks. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

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South African schools have seen a number of violent incidents this year.

In September, the government called on stakeholders to come together and address the escalating levels of violence in schools.

"Violence in schools is a societal problem which requires all stakeholders to play their part to create a safe schooling environment," acting director of the Government Communication and Information System Phumla Williams said in a statement.

This violence includes stabbings, rock throwing, assault and bullying - that have led to the deaths of both pupils and teachers - as well as sexual assault. 

Here are some of the violent incidents at schools that shocked us in 2018:

Grade 1 pupil stabbed to death

A North West high school pupil was arrested for allegedly stabbing a 7-year-old Grade 1 pupil to death in Makapanstad on November 20.

The incident happened at the Dikeledi Makapan Primary School which the Grade 1 pupil attended.

It is alleged that the Grade 11 pupil, 17, stabbed the younger pupil multiple times after a fallout with the child's older sister, with whom he apparently had a romantic relationship.

Stone thrown at teacher

On November 16, the Gauteng education department expelled a Soweto pupil who threw a stone at a teacher, causing the teacher to suffer minor injuries.

The incident occurred at Albertina Sisulu Special School on a day when a Commonwealth ambassador had come to donate wheelchairs.

In a video of the incident, the teenager can be seen chasing the teacher out of the hall. The teacher runs away, while other pupils and teachers try to stop the pupil.

A teacher can be heard asking what his problem is.

The pupil replies: "I have been patient with him for too long. Today, he will k*k himself."

Water in teacher's face

Also in November, a Kimberley Boys' High School pupil, seen throwing water in his teacher's face in a viral video on Twitter, was suspended and will attend a disciplinary hearing, the Northern Cape education department said.

The video shows the young man with a water bottle in his hand. He says: "You're a good teacher, ma'am."

He then throws the water in her face as his classmates crow in the background.

Attempted stabbing

On October 24, Ekurhuleni metro police arrested a Grade 11 pupil at Fumana High School in Katlehong after he allegedly attempted to stab fellow pupils.

The pupil faces charges of attempted murder, assault with the intent to commit grievous bodily harm and intimidation.

Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wilfred Kgasago told News24 that the teen chased five fellow pupils around the school premises, trying to stab them.

Fearing for their lives, the five pupils ran into the principal's office and locked themselves inside.

Taking bodyguard to school

On October 22, it was reported that a 16-year-old Grade 10 pupil at Grey College in Bloemfontein would complete his studies at home after showing up at school with a bodyguard to protect himself from being bullied.

This followed two incidents of violent bullying - one in March and another on October 12.

In the first incident, his head was bashed against a wall and he was hit against his ear, causing damage to his eardrum.

The boy's mother told Netwerk24 that during the second alleged attack, he and his family were sworn at by Grade 11 pupils, using the Afrikaans slur "p**s" and telling him: "You must leave this f*cking school."

Bus driver assaulted

In September, a pupil was filmed assaulting a bus driver. The video went viral and the pupil faced disciplinary action.

Mpumalanga education MEC Sibusiso Malaza said he was horrified that a school pupil could place others at risk through his violent actions.

"One cannot imagine that a learner can conduct himself in such a horrible manner. It's really so unfortunate and heartbreaking. There is nothing that can justify violent conduct and disregard for the safety of other learners," he said.

Murdered over cellphone

On September 24, a teenager was arrested for the murder of a fellow pupil at an Eastern Cape school, following a stabbing during a fight over a missing cellphone.

Police spokesperson Captain Khaya Tonjeni said a 16-year-old pupil had been arrested after the 18-year-old victim died at a local hospital.

The incident took place at a high school in Peddie.

Stabbing teacher to death

On September 13, a 17-year-old boy who attended a high school in Zeerust, North West, was arrested after allegedly stabbing a teacher to death.

Education department officials visited the school after the incident, basic education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said.

"It seems there was an altercation regarding feeding the boy.

"He was in a queue and was reprimanded by the teacher. He took it personally and went home and came back today and found the teacher inside the classroom where he stabbed him," Mhlanga said.

Toy gun pointed at teacher

Also in September, a 15-year-old pupil from Eldorado Park, Johannesburg, was arrested after he allegedly pulled out a toy gun, pointed it at his teacher and threatened to shoot.

According to police spokesperson Captain Thinandavha Lufhugu, a teacher had confronted the Grade 8 pupil the day before (a Tuesday) for wearing a beanie at school.

"On Wednesday, he wore the beanie again and the teacher confronted him again, asking him to take it off. Instead of taking it off, he pulled out a gun..." Lufhugu said.

Stabbed to death by schoolmate

In August, the provincial department of education suspended classes at Kwamasakhane High School in KwaZulu-Natal after two pupils were stabbed to death.

Two friends, Sihle Mngadi and Mangaliso Mbatha were allegedly stabbed to death by a schoolmate.

Sihle had allegedly been involved in a fight with the suspect. On the following Monday, when they came back to school, they continued with their fight at the school.

Mangaliso, who was in Grade 10, was killed while trying to stop the fight.

Culture of sexual assault

Also in August, a report into allegations of sexual assault at Parktown Boys' High School in Johannesburg blew the lid off a number of disturbing practices at the school.

These practices include "sexually predatory behaviour" by senior pupils against junior pupils, a culture of assault and sexual assault under the guise of "initiation practices" and "profoundly shocking" utterances made by teachers in the presence of pupils.

A former Parktown Boys' High School assistant water polo coach was found guilty of 114 counts of sexual assault and 12 counts of common assault.

The hostel master initially faced 327 counts, but pleaded guilty to 144 counts of sexual assault, while the court also acquitted him on some charges.

Pupil killed at school

In July, a 38-year-old man was arrested for allegedly murdering a Grade 10 pupil on school grounds in the Northern Cape.

Lieutenant Colonel Dimakatso Mooi said the shooting occurred at Mokgolokwe Middle School near Batlharo.

"I can confirm that a 17-year-old boy was shot and we have opened a preliminary investigation to determine the surrounding circumstances," Mooi said.

Own son shot dead

In June, a man shot and killed his teenage son, apparently by mistake, outside his school in Ennerdale, south of Johannesburg.

Soweto West cluster spokesperson Captain Mpande Khoza said the father, 50, was charged with the murder of his 14-year-old son.

"The father dropped the boy [off] and he locked his vehicle and waited inside... he then fell asleep. The boy [later] came back and knocked on the passenger window of his father's vehicle.

"The father, who was asleep in the car with his firearm on him, got scared by the knocking of his son [and] he pulled out his firearm and shot towards the direction of the person who was knocking," said Khoza.

He then realised that he had shot his son.

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