Deep emotional stress and gangs are believed to be some of the reasons behind the recent spate of violence in Gauteng schools. Student organisations, counsellors and education officials are concerned about the scourge.
Some high school learners say it is normal for fights to break out among peers every now and then.
“I got in a lot of fights with some girls, over… I think… of jealously. They talk a lot about me; some are abused at home, so they take out their anger at school by fighting with other kids and fighting with teachers,” a learner explains.
Another learner says, “I feel like the teachers are overwhelmed and they can’t do anything at this point. The learners are getting out of hand; they fight a lot and put the blame on the parents because the parents can’t discipline their kids.”
What may start out as normal teenage fights, sometimes turns deadly. This past week, a grade 10 learner was stabbed to death at Geluksdal Secondary School in Brakpan, Ekurhuleni. This was after a fight that allegedly started during school hours when three boys pepper-sprayed other learners.
It’s alleged the perpetrators came back after classes ended and another fight ensued. This led to the death of the grade 10 learner.
VIDEO: Gauteng Education condemns violence in schools: Matome Chiloane
Chairperson of the Gauteng Portfolio Committee on Community Safety, Bandile Masuku:
“We are concerned about the spate of violence in a couple of areas, and we have undertaken to understand what are the trends that were derived by the Department of Education and Community Safety to deal with school safety. But what is of concern is that there is a general increase of lawlessness not only in schools but in society and it is something we are worried and concerned about,” says Masuku.
Nkateko Sithole from COSAS in Gauteng wants action.
“We have been having a number of gangsterism growth and violence in our schools. We need a department that is action taker. Us here in public schools, we keep being victims of violence and gangsterism because we don’t have proper security. So our call is that people in CPF structures must be trained to become proper security personnel in that way they will guard and look after our schools,” says Sithole.
But these violent acts are not random and could stem from deep home or psychological issues. Hansraj Mitha from a youth organisation called Vuka Shokho says they often visit a number of schools in Johannesburg to ascertain what issues learners are grappling with.
“The learners are like on what I can call an uprise. It’s appearing in a form of violence, bullying, suicide as well as victimization. And this is what they are picking up from the external environment they are exposed to. Growing up in townships and informal settlements, they see what adults are doing and there is an element of them that is unsettled,” says Mitha.
Sometimes the violence is not connected to learners but can occur on school premises. On Monday, a man was shot dead at the Kagiso Secondary school, west of Johannesburg. The man allegedly entered the school and took hostage some staff members. It’s alleged that he stabbed and wounded one of the teachers and was subsequently shot dead by another teacher.
“He proceeded to the admin block and hysterically demanded to see the principal. He allegedly drew a knife and stabbed a teacher, in the hand. Subsequently, another teacher shot and unfortunately, he succumbed to his wounds. It’s quite unfortunate what happened at the school and learners are traumatised by what they saw, and these are the things that we really don’t need to see in our school environment,” says Gauteng education spokesperson, Steve Mabona.
The Gauteng Education Department says all those affected will receive counselling.