“KHULANI was my only son. I want my son,” screamed a distraught mother as she watched forensic pathologists remove her child’s bloodied body a street from his Joburg school.
Dumi Chauke had to be restrained by relatives as she tried hard to get close to the body of her 19-year-old son, Khulani Mathebula, who was stabbed to death in the chest outside Mondeor High School yesterday morning.
The heartbroken mother wasn’t alone in shedding tears.
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi wept openly while addressing the media about the Grade 11 pupil’s tragic death, a kilometre from the school’s premises.
“It’s scenes like this, of parents mourning, that breaks my heart. I am tired of submitting death certificates instead of graduations.”
He said the department needed to review its safety systems at schools. “We need a complete review so we can strengthen all the regulations and laws to deal with these issues,” said Lesufi.
Khulani is the latest victim of school-related violence, which has rocked the country this academic year.
Late yesterday, police made a swift breakthrough in arresting a suspect allegedly involved in the boy’s killing.
Gauteng police spokesperson Kay Makhubele said a team of detectives followed up on information obtained at the scene of the crime, which led them to another school in Mondeor where a 13-year-old boy was arrested, allegedly with the murder weapon.
“The deceased, who was on his way to school, was attacked and stabbed to death by three other schoolboys from a nearby school in the area,” said Makhubele.
Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela welcomed the quick arrest and urged the community to help police trace the two other suspects.
Khulani wasn’t the only pupil to be attacked during school hours yesterday. While the North West Education Department was hosting a school safety summit in Rustenburg, a 13-year-old girl was stabbed in her abdomen with a knife.
“She was found by the other learners in the morning when they went to use the toilet. She is currently recovering in hospital,” said North West education spokesperson Elias Malindi.
It was unclear what led to the attack but investigations were under way.
Khulani’s uncle, Themba Chauke, said he had received a phone call from his younger brother, who was sobbing at the time, after the tragic incident at Mondeor High School.
“I couldn’t understand what he was saying. He was crying uncontrollably. He told me that Khulani had been stabbed and asked that I immediately come to the scene. I was so shocked.”
Chauke said he was distraught at seeing his nephew lying dead in a pool of blood. “I saw him lying helplessly.”
He described Khulani as an ambitious young man with big plans. “He wanted to do a lot of things. He wanted to be everything. Unfortunately it had to come to this. This is a dark cloud that has come over our family.” One of the first people at the scene was distraught Mondeor High School principal Vangelia Nicolaou, who found Kulani seriously injured. “I could feel his pulse. His eyes were still open. I could see he was still alive, but also I could see that he was going.”
The circumstances around the stabbing were unclear, with Lesufi saying security cameras had been handed to police. Social workers were deployed at the school to offer counselling to the family and learners.
The chief executive of the Sinoville Crisis Centre, Colleen Strauss, said exposure to violence in the home was one of the reasons children were violent. “Statistics also tell us that almost one in three children suffers physical violence,” she said. Police and the National Prosecuting Authority should host awareness campaigns on violence at schools, and “be more aggressive in charging and prosecuting any adult who neglects their duty to protect children and to create a safe and secure environment for them”.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said she was worried about increasing violence in schools.
“The holistic education of our learners is a societal matter, and we, as communities, parents and guardians, must instil in our children the notion that violence is not the answer.”
She urged communities “to take back control of schools”.
By YETHU DLAMINI - email@example.com
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