After the gruesome death of yet another pupil, scores of Sebokeng residents crowded the entrance of Thuto-Tiro Comprehensive School searching for answers.
According to Gauteng education department district director Victor Thetha, two Grade 9 pupils were playing in class when one of them stabbed the other once in the chest with a pair of scissors.
The injured pupil, Tshepo Mpehlo, 14, was immediately taken to the sick bay but was pronounced dead on the arrival of paramedics. School principal Jeff Khumalo said from the information given to him by the teachers, the two pupils were friends.
South African Police Service (Saps) captain Fikile Funda confirmed police were called to the school after the scuffle was reported at 10.20am yesterday and that a 15-year-old pupil had been arrested. “We are now investigating a case of murder. The investigation is ongoing,” said Funda.
Thetha said the departmental psychosocial team had visited the school and spoken to the parents of the children involved. “They will be meeting with teachers to plan and prepare to take [pupils] through a psychosocial programme,” said Thetha.
Despite this, community members said they were not happy with the way the matter had been handled by officials.
One even said the Saps captain on scene threatened to arrest him for probing for answers, but he would not rest until the issue was handled.
Standing at the front of the crowd gathered outside the school, parent Teboho Shata said: “We don’t like this … this not the first time, it is the third or fourth time this has happened at the school!”
He said there were also pupils from other schools in the Sebokeng area coming to look for trouble and parents often found themselves outside the school gates, breaking up fights. “When we speak to the principal, he gives us bad attitude,” he said.
Another parent and community leader Lebogang Saul said Funda had threatened to arrest him after he had spoken out about the way officials had treated concerned parents who appeared at the school after hearing about the incident.
“We are very sad and traumatised by what happened today. What’s more disturbing is that parents left their jobs to see if their kids were safe, only to come here and have access to the school denied,” he said.
“They said they will address them afterwards. How do you address them afterwards? They must be given preference. They also want to help.”
Saul accused the principal of misleading parents on the frequency of violence that occurred at the school. “As a principal, you need to protect kids at school … not let them fall victim to violence by denying what’s happening every day,” said Saul.
The principal, Khumalo, said the school dealt with pupil problems on a daily basis and that they were all handled in line with the available policies. “I wouldn’t say we are an exception to incidents of bullying and more. “They do happen, but we deal with them,” he said.