Durban - A northern KwaZulu-Natal pre-school teacher was stabbed in front of her pupils last week.
Zandile Gumede, 41, a teacher at Solwazi Crèche, in KwaMduku near Hluhluwe, was walking to school with some of her pupils last Wednesday when she was attacked.
A woman is due to appear in court on Monday in connection with the murder.
Gumede’s relatives were alerted by her pupils, some as young as three, that she had been attacked.
Her nephew, Vukani Sibiya, said they were crying hysterically and had to be calmed down before they could tell them what had happened.
“One of the older kids, who is five years old, told us that a man was following them and attacked my aunt from behind,” Sibiya said.
Policey confirmed the incident on Sunday, saying a woman had been arrested.
Provincial police spokesman, Colonel Jay Naicker, said the 32-year-old woman had been charged with murder and is expected to appear in Obonjeni Magistrate’s Court today.
Police would not reveal how the woman was linked to the case as it is believed a man was responsiible for the murder.
Recalling events which led to the attack, Sibiya said Gumede, who had taught at the crèche for a year, had left for work at about 6.30am with pupils, who are her neighbours’ children.
Sibiya said the children had told the family that Gumede had stopped when she noticed a man following them.
“The kids told us that my aunt had asked the man if she could help him as he had been following them and he said he was looking for his sheep,” he said.
Gumede continued walking and was then attacked.
“The kids said the man attacked my aunt with a knife from behind.
“They said he stabbed her several times,” he said.
The traumatised children ran back to Gumede’s house, where they informed her relatives.
“They were just crying and we couldn’t understand a word of what they were saying, but one of the older kids told us a man had killed their teacher,” Sibiya said.
Relatives rushed to the scene where they found Gumede’s body.
“She had so many stab wounds and her throat had been slit.”
The family informed the police and a murder case was opened.
The attacker had not been apprehended, police said.
Sibiya said the family, especially Gumede’s four young children, were struggling to come to terms with her death.
“Having to explain to them how their mother died was the most difficult part,” he said.
When asked what the motive for the murder could be, Sibiya said as far as he knew his aunt had no enemies in the area.
“She loved life, her kids and just children in general and that’s why she was a teacher at a crèche,” he said. “We still don’t know who would want to kill her in such a heartless manner in front of such young kids.”
Naicker said the motive for the murder was unknown at this stage.
Sibiya said the pupils who witnessed the incident had not slept much since the murder.
“The five-year-old girl who explained what had happened to us is the one that was hardest hit. She just cries all the time,” he said.
A shocked Linda Naidoo, director of Childline in KZN, said the children would need counselling to help them get through this difficult period.
She said nightmares and flashbacks about the attack would continue to haunt them for some time.
“The children were secondary victims in that they were not directly targeted, but they suffered just as much – if not worse,” Naidoo said.