It’s been a year that has seen the corridors of education marred by a spate of violent incidents from gangs taking over classrooms, to learners turning on each other. In March, Mondeor high Grade 10 learner Kulani Mathebula was stabbed to death by learners from a nearby school and three boys aged 13 and 15 were arrested for Mathebula’s murder.
While millions sat for the June exams, gang violence erupted at Forest High in Turffontein, Johannesburg and Grade 8 learner Daniel Bakwela was stabbed to death and two others injured.
In Sebokeng, friends turned on each other. Grade 9 pupil Thsepo Mpehlo at Thuto Tiro Secondary was stabbed to death with a pair of scissors. While the school principal assured the media that this was an isolated incident. The community insisted that violence had been festering at this school.
A 17-year-old learner from Manyeding village in Kuruman was sentenced to 12 years in prison after stabbing his teacher to death with a sharp object and KwaZulu-Natal teacher, Sbonakaliso Nyawose, was shot and killed allegedly by an unknown man.
The man entered the school premises and fired multiple shots at the teacher.
At Metsimaphodi Secondary in the Free State a grade 10 learner was killed by a grade 11 learner.
While most education departments in the country launched anti-bullying campaigns, it seems the message did not reach Eastwood Secondary in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. 18-year-old Hershelle Fynn was killed allegedly by a fellow learner after he intervened in a bullying incident.
In the Eastern Cape a 15-year-old allegedly stabbed and killed a fellow 16-year-old learner at Mpeko Primary in Peddie and another learner was stabbed at Indwe Secondary at Mossel Bay.
If the levels of school violence over the past few years are any indication is that the new academic year is not likely to be spared. Schools, communities and parents will have to do much more to turn the tide.