Durban - A 12-year-old from Ndwedwe is among the 9 135 pupils who were reported pregnant in KwaZulu-Natal schools in the last year.
The pupil was impregnated by a 33-year-old man, who allegedly paid a goat to her family as payment for damages.
“The family has accepted the goat. They were comfortable with that and the pupil was not at school and was staying with the man,” MEC for Education in KZN, Mthandeni Ndlungwane told the legislature.
Ndlungwane, who confirmed a case has been opened and the man arrested, made the startling revelation when the department briefed the education portfolio committee on a programme called My Life, My Future.
It is aimed at discouraging pupils from dropping out of school and also tackling social ills such as teen pregnancies and substance abuse.
It also seeks to increase knowledge on HIV and its prevention.
A report tabled to the committee showed that Ugu, Umkhanyakude and Umlazi districts had the worst pupil pregnancy statistics in the province with 1 200, 1 089 and 1 018, respectively.
Umgungundlovu district had the fewest, 275, followed by Sisonke and Ilembe, with 510 and 538.
The report showed there had been a decrease in pupil pregnancies of 1 078 in the province, from 10 213 in 2014 to last year’s 9 135 .
However, it noted the figures were based on pupils' disclosures.
“There is a possibility that many cases are not reported,” it said.
Statistics South Africa has since 2011 recorded an increasing incidence of teenage pregnancy in KwaZulu-Natal.
“The prevalence noted in KZN is part of a national trend,” the report to the committee said.
The StatsSA survey found 68 000 pregnancy cases in the province in 2011, 81 000 in 2012 and 99 000 in 2013.
“When you look at these figures, they are scary,” Ndlungwane said.
He also said it was of utmost importance the pupils were protected from social ills and his department had to do exactly that.
Ndlungwane said his department planned to follow up on pupil pregnancy cases to establish who was involved.
ANC MPL Jomo Sibiya said “it has become a culture for young girls to get pregnant” and there were no consequences".
He said teachers sometimes got off scot free after impregnating pupils.
ANC MPL and chief whip, Nontembeko Boyce, said the department should introduce an enforceable programme aimed at assisting pupils to stay away from social ills.
Committee chairwoman Linda Hlongwa said the My Life, My Future programme should continue running at schools in the light of the ballooning figures.