Several people injured in 'violent attack' at Pietermaritzburg school, suspect arrested

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  • Several people have been injured in an attack at a school in KwaZulu-Natal.
  • The incident took place in full view of terrified pupils.
  • The attacker was overpowered by school staff and handed over to police officers.

A man has been arrested after attacking a security guard and several other people at a Pietermaritzburg school on Wednesday, as a volley of gunshots rang out, while terrified pupils huddled together in fear.

It was initially believed to have been a lone gunman opening fire at the school. In a statement, the KwaZulu-Natal education department said the attack "happened in broad daylight at Alston Primary School".

According to reports, an assailant gained entry to the school premises through the pedestrian gate and attacked a security guard. He also attacked two other adults, the department said.

Police spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Nqobile Gwala, said the incident took place at around 13:00.

She added that the security guard was stabbed in the arm with a screwdriver.

Gwala said: 

Another person who witnessed the incident tried to assist the security guard that was stabbed by scaring the suspect with a gas gun. The suspect went straight to the person who was helping and also stabbed him in the hand.

School staff overpowered and disarmed the attacker.

Police arrived at the scene and arrested a 40-year-old man.

"The violent incident took place in full view of learners who were visibly shocked and traumatised by the chaotic scenes that happened," the department's statement read.

READ | Pupil pulls out firearm during fight outside North West school

It added that in a video obtained from an eyewitness, pupils can be heard screaming and running for cover.

In the video, which has been widely shared on social media, pupils can be seen huddling together, while others run for cover as gunshots ring out. Many of the little ones can be heard crying.

The children are hemmed in by a fence while bystanders desperately try to create an exit and usher them off the school premises. A man presumed to be the gunman is seen walking across the school field and entering a building.

According to education department spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa, the security guard, one parent, and two residents were injured.

KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Mbali Frazer said it was troubling that pupils were subjected to this kind of violence.

Frazer added:

Our teachers and staff are also worried that their lives are at risk. I trust the police to do their work to ensure that a conviction is secure[d] and that jail becomes the final destination of the perpetrator.

The department said it dispatched a team of counsellors to the school and would investigate the incident.

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