Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says he is emotionally battling to deal with the high number of learner deaths in the province. Since the start of the 2020 academic year, eleven learners have died in Gauteng.

In the latest incident, a 16-year-old grade 10 learner died after falling from the second floor of a building at the Ferndale High School in Johannesburg, on Tuesday.

It’s believed that the boy lost his balance after suffering an epileptic fit.  Lesufi says it’s been a tough few weeks.

“It has been a difficult year for us and indeed we are emotionally drained and emotionally devastated and there’s nothing left. Even words are failing us now. One has not taken leave for quite some time and I am acting MEC for social development and during the December period I was the acting Premier and you will recall during the month of January it was the busiest time for the department. So with events that have just unfolded, one has no choice to take a little break to recover and recharge the batteries,” says Lesufi.

The Gauteng Department of Education says it will continue to provide counselling to learners and teachers at Ferndale High School.

Spokesperson Steve Mabona says, “More especially learners who were in the same class as the deceased. Probably the reaction will be different from other learners. And some of the friends. That process will continue tomorrow. We do not know what to say as a department. 12 deaths since the beginning of the academic year 2020.”