by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG – THE death of a 15-year-old girl, and the subsequent arrest of a 14-year-old classmate for allegedly driving her into the suicide, has highlighted the scourge of violence taking hold in South African schools and the plague of suicide taking root in the country in general.
The death of the schoolgirl, Lufuno Mavhunga, is the aftermath of the latest in string of incidents that have led to local schools degenerating from safe havens to acquire education to hotspots of the violence afflicting the country.
She overdosed on prescription pills after she was assaulted at the school premises.
It is reported the bullying incident against the above-named teenager was not the first time she fell victim.
School authorities have come under fire for failing to address the issue.
Polly Boshielo, the Limpopo Member of the Executive Council (MEC): Education, assured disciplinary processes would be undertaken.
“It is quite disturbing to witness this level of violent behaviour among young people. We strongly condemn such conduct that has turned our schools into horrendous havens of those who have no regards for their peers,” Boshielo said.
The incident in the northern Limpopo Province has sent shockwaves throughout South Africa.
At the time of publication, a teenage girl captured on the April 12 video, was behind bars.
That she has spent days in custody amid the postponement of criminal proceeding itself has presented a conundrum around the state’s quest to deliver justice and the rights of the child under probe.
The bullying incident at the Mbilwi Secondary School is only a tip of the iceberg.
According to the non-governmental organisation, 1000 Women Trust, it is reported that as many as 57 percent of South African learners have been bullied at some time during their high school careers.
“When one considers that we have 2,2 million school-going children in this country, those percentages translate into truly staggering numbers,” stated Tina Thiart, the organisation’s founding member.
The 1000 Women Trust has developed an anti-bullying toolkit to create awareness and provide women and girls the knowledge and tools to devise solutions to the problem of bullying in their communities.
According to SaferSpaces, violence in South African schools includes psychological abuse, robbery, physical assaults, gang violence, sexual violence and bullying.
The majority is learners-on learner violence.
Earlier this month, the Gauteng Education Department, condemned the ill-behaviour displayed by a group of Grade 12 learners from the troubled Parktown Boys High School who were video recorded having a violent altercation. The learners involved in the altercation were suspended.
The same department recently suspended 12 learners from the Lenasia South Secondary School following another violent incident involving students.
In a tragic incident, a 17-year -old boy learner from the Dominican School for the Deaf in Hammanskraal in the province died by suicide at the end of March.
It is alleged that the learner hung himself after a love quarrel with a 17-year-old girl learner from the same school.
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) reports there are 23 recorded suicides a day in the country.
This crisis came to the fore earlier this month after the fiancé of a popular local musician allegedly took her own life.
– CAJ News