All the Mavhunga family did was send their teenage daughter to school with the hopes of her getting the education she deserved, not knowing that the place she was meant to feel safe, failed to protect her.
Speaking at the funeral of Lufuno Mavhunga, at the Spirit Ambassadors International Church in Nzhelele in Limpopo on Saturday, her uncle Dakalo Netshivhazwaulu said he could not wrap his head around how his niece died.
“When we take our children to school our intention is for them to go and learn. When they get there, we do not think they will be treated the way our child was treated,” he said.
“All we did as a family was take our child to school.”
Lufuno (15), a pupil at Mbilwi Secondary School in Thohoyandou, reportedly took an overdose of medication on Monday hours after she had allegedly been assaulted by a fellow pupil. A video of the incident went viral on social media.
Netshivhazwaulu said: “I think as parents we have the responsibility to teach our children to treat each other with respect, no matter where we are from. To treat each other as equals. Lufuno was a sweet girl and did not deserve this.”
Thembi Siweya, Deputy Minister in the Presidency, said that Lufuno had been failed by everyone.
“Schools and classrooms are supposed to be a safe environment for our children. We should be teaching our young girls that we must look out for each other and not fight each other,” Siweya lamented.
She appealed to Limpopo Education MEC Polly Boshielo and other government departments to make sure that “schools are safe”.
Boshielo said: “In honour of Lufuno, we should correct where we are wrong. We have failed her, and we apologise to the family. We must not think that depression is not real because it is.”
She recalled when she was told of Lufuno’s passing: “As a mother, when they tell you a child is no more, what do you do? I remember sitting down with her classmates, and I could not look them in the eye.
“I remember also sitting down with classmates of the [alleged] perpetrator [of the assault] and I could not look them in the eye either. We all loved Lufuno.”
Boshielo told City Press that bullying was an ongoing problem that needed to be addressed with urgency.
“Bullying is something that has always been there, but the fact that in this instance it escalated the way it did, should worry us all,” she said.