Johannesburg - On Monday afternoon, a Grade 11 pupil came home angry and humiliated. The 18-year-old was bare-chested and barefoot.
His school bag and cellphone were gone. He was in tears as he entered his mother’s home in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni.
He had fallen victim to a gang who intimidated his school, Phineas Xulu Secondary School. They’d chased him after the final bell, pelted him with stones until he stopped and then robbed him of everything except his pants.
His mom consoled him as she prepared to report for duty as a constable at Vosloorus police station.
She returned at the end of her night shift and went to bed, only to be awakened a few hours later by her armed colleagues swarming into her house wanting to arrest her son.
A Grade 10 pupil, Nkululeko Ndlovu, 18, had been shot dead.
Her son was the prime suspect – and he had apparently used her service pistol to shoot his tormentor dead.
She protested that her pistol was in its locked safe when she’d got home. The officers demanded to see it. Ejecting the magazine, they showed her that bullets were missing.
On Wednesday, the soft-spoken 36-year-old officer was in shock. Grief creasing her face, she struggled to put into words what she felt.
“I am hurt about what happened to my baby. I am very concerned about his future. He never mentioned bullying to me before.
“He was very quiet and does not like to complain. I did not even know about the shooting until police came. The gun was safe in the house, in the safe. I don’t know how he got to find it,” she said.
Ndlovu had been shot in the classroom as he sat waiting to write an exam. On Wednesday, no one was prepared to shed a tear for him. The general feeling was that he had got what he deserved.
One teacher was even overheard saying “minus one problem”.
Other teachers conceded privately that he had been troublesome and that he’d scared them too.
His classmates at the school all knew he was a bully and preyed on the other children with his gang.
On Wednesday, they felt no grief, only freedom that his reign of terror had been brought to an end.
“We are relieved that he is dead. we will now eat our food and spend our money,” a pupil at the school told The Star on Wednesday.
Ndlovu was expelled from a Boksburg school two years ago after ignoring three separate warnings to change his ways.
On Wednesday, Gauteng Department of Education spokesman Charles Phahlane said the school had been aware of Ndlovu’s behavioural issues and had been addressing them with the help of his grandmother.
He said investigators from the department were probing whether the principal had been aware of Ndlovu’s alleged bullying and whether this had been a contributing factor to the shooting.
On Wednesday, Ndlovu’s family were inconsolable. They denied he’d ever been a problem pupil and said no one had ever told them he was a bully.
Ndlovu was staying with his grandmother, who runs a church from her home. He lost his father when he was younger, while his mother lives in nearby Duduza.
A cousin, Smangele Ndlovu, 29, who also lives in the house, asked why the school had not kicked him out if he was a bully, like everyone claimed.
“Even if he was a bully, he was not supposed to be killed. Allegations that he was a bully are new to my ears,” Smangele said.
Another cousin, Zandile Ndlovu, said the family were distraught at the negative comments online.
The suspect was expected to appear in the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.