KwaZulu-Natal - Why, why my child? was the anguished cry of MaNgcobo Nxumalo, the mother of the teacher shot dead at school on Friday.
She lay on a mattress on the lounge floor, covered in blankets, while a lone candle burned beside her at a relative’s home in Pinetown.
Her sobs were the only sound in the otherwise silent room. Tears streamed down her face as relatives tried to comfort her.
Maureen Lucky Khuzwayo, 50, a head of department at Zephania Secondary in the Illembe district, KwaMaphumulo, was shot a number of times, allegedly by an angry parent.
Education MEC Senzo Mchunu visited the Khuzwayo family with a delegation of department officials yesterday.
Mchunu, who was shocked by the incident, said his deepest condolences go out to the family.
“I received word of this tragedy while on my way to the Free State. You would not expect an incident like this in a quiet, rural school.
“He came to the school with a purpose, seeking a particular teacher. We believe he was angry and demanded a child’s report. When she (Khuzwayo) told him it had been given to the boy’s friend, he angrily asked her why she allowed the child to fail.
“He then drew a gun and shot her twice in the stomach and ran off,” Mchunu said.
“But he turned around and came back to finish the job, shooting to ensure she was dead. We want to go back to the school on Monday and find out the name of the child in question. We need to confirm if a parent did the shooting or if someone was hired. But we are confident the police will do their job and an arrest will be made soon.”
The victim’s niece, Zanele Khuzwayo, speaking on behalf of the family, said they were devastated by the loss of “Lucky” – the name they used for her.
Struggling to hold back the tears, she said Khuzwayo was a wonderful person who loved her job.
“She loved teaching so much, and took pride in her work. She was a head of department and was promoted because of her dedication.
“We have lost a wonderful person who was always there for those in need. After my mother died, she became like a mother to me. I could turn to her for anything. Now she is gone.”
She said the family was grateful the MEC had visited.
Khuzwayo, who will be buried this week, leaves her husband, a principal at another school, and four children.
Mchunu said the tragedy highlighted the vulnerability of teachers at schools.
“This happened at a school that has security guards, although they are not armed. We need to find out how he was let on to school property without being searched. These shocking incidents make us realise we cannot take security at schools for granted.”