The spectre of bullying has reared its ugly head in Pretoria again, ending in the stabbing to death of a Grade 11 Soshanguve schoolboy.
Bullying and eventual retaliation have been blamed for the death of the high school pupil on Monday.
Schoolchildren close to the tragedy said the argument and knife fight which broke outside the school had been a long time coming.
While a bigger group is alleged to have been part of the fight, which started when Soshanguve Central Secondary School pupils were dismissed at noon on Monday, there were only two who came to harm.
“One of them lay dead on the ground, another was badly injured and bleeding from his upper body.
“A third boy was arrested by the police,” a witness told the Pretoria News on Tuesday.
The witness asked to remain anonymous to avoid being caught up in any investigation of the incident. He said he had been outside the adjacent primary school when a crowd of pupils emerged from the high school gates at about noon.
“I heard shouting and jeering, then a few broke away and ran across the road. The next thing I heard were groans,” he said.
Confusion among those who were there took over, another witness said. Within minutes, it seemed as if every pupil from the school was in the area where the fight had taken place.
“There was a lot of blood near the wall where the two were stabbed. This was after paramedics and the police had arrived and taken the boys away,” the witness added.
Staff at the school, casual workers on the grounds and pupils, on Tuesday said they were under strict instructions not to say anything about the killing, but some spoke of the events believed to have led to the Grade 11 boy being killed.
A pupil said: “The one who stabbed that boy had been tormented for a while by the other (boy) and his group of friends. He was pushed over the edge.”
No one had any idea how long he might have carried the knife: “It could have taken him a long time to muster enough courage to pull it out and stab.”
Captain Tsekiso Mofokeng, of the provincial police media office, said they were investigating the incident with the intention of finding out if issues ran deeper or if it was a once-off.
He said: “Two of the boys were embroiled in an argument when one, aged 16, pulled out a knife and stabbed the 17 year old in the chest.”
A third, also aged 17, intervened and tried to break them up, and he was stabbed in the back, Mofokeng said.
He confirmed that the one boy who was stabbed had died at the scene, while the other was rushed to hospital.
“The alleged killer was taken into custody,” he said. The identities of those involved have not been revealed by authorities yet.
Gauteng Education MEC Phanyaza Lesufi visited the school and the affected families on Tuesday morning.
“He was there with a team of school intervention officials, and he addressed morning assembly to comfort learners. The teams are on standby to offer psycho-social support for those who need it,” departmental spokeswoman Phumla Sekhonyane said.
Although the dead boy’s family were unable to discuss the incident on Tuesday, some pupils took to social media to vent their anger at the death, and to offer their condolences to the family of the deceased.
They put up pictures of the deceased, and an accompanying collage of him in different poses. One wrote: “Rest in peace my brother.”
The driver of a minibus taxi which transports some of the local high school pupils home said the boys in his vehicle often spoke of the alleged bully and said he treated other boys with cruelty. “They were deeply shocked by Monday’s stabbing, but they said it would definitely have come to that.”
In recent months, Pretoria News has reported on bullying across city schools, including a case of a Langenhoven schoolboy whose ear was almost sliced away, one who was stabbed in the back, a boy who was bullied on a school bus from Suiderberg, as well as a girl who was abused at a Pretoria West school.