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Durban - A brutal, premeditated attack on a schoolgirl this week escalated to an even more sickening level when a crowd of watching pupils trapped her with her tormentors, and then filmed the spectacle and uploaded it on to the internet. The victim is in hiding after her ordeal, terrified that it will be repeated, while the perpetrator is attending school as usual.
This comes hot on the heels of a spate of similar assaults in KwaZulu-Natal that have provoked public outrage and raised questions about both the schooling system and attitudes towards violence affecting the youth in South Africa.
What started out as an innocent BlackBerry Messenger picture turned into a nightmare of cyberbullying and assault for 15-year-old Yolisha Short.
Short, a Grade 10 pupil at a school in Merebank, was attacked by a fellow pupil on Monday, and the video of the school fight immediately went viral on social media.
This incident follows the recent “Black and Yellow” video of a Chatsworth school’s compilation of violent fights that took place at the school in 2010, and even as recently as last week.
Short’s attack video shows an argument that took place among the pupils outside the school, as well as a later attack on her by one of the pupils.
“Two girls in my grade had been bullying me ever since I put up a picture on BBM on Friday last week. They continuously made comments about me, saying that I was being a sheep and ‘copying’ them, and they picked on my mother, who has a skin disorder.
“They called me a bitch and said that they were going to hit me, and I wasn’t even sure why,” a subdued Short said.
However, Short ignored their derogatory comments and went on to have a good weekend without letting the issue bother her, she said.
But when she returned to school on Monday, matters started to escalate rapidly.
She was approached by the two girls, who tried to assault her, she claimed.
When they spotted a teacher nearby, they let her off the hook, but warned that they would “give her a hiding” after school, said Short.
True to their word, as Short walked home, her tormentors cornered her.
“They brought along three of their female cousins, and they barricaded the place, and all the pupils outside of school began to form a circle around me,” Short said.
The group of girls began to verbally abuse Short, and one of them walked towards her and began to kick her in the ribs and face, and then started kicking the rest of her body.
They struck her on the nose which began pouring with blood, but it had no impact on her enraged attackers.
Laughing and jeering at the victim, the other pupils pulled out cellphones and began to record the attack.
When Short got home, her distraught mother, Sagree Short, rushed her to Wentworth Hospital, and then laid a charge of assault against the two assailants with the Wentworth SAPS.
“We can confirm that Wentworth police station is investigating a case of assault which happened on October 21. No arrests have been made at this stage,” said Captain Thulani Zwane, spokesman for the KZN SAPS, on Saturday.
Short’s mother says that she is terrified to send her daughter back to school.
She said her daughter received more threats the day after the attack because she reported the matter to the school’s principal.
The principal of PR Pather Secondary School, Val Satyendra, was telephoned at her home and a message was left with a man who answered the phone. However, she had not responded by the time of publication.
Spokesman for the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education Muzi Mahlambi said that the department would be intervening in the matter, and that officials would be sent to the school to compile a report.
Vee Gani, the chairman of the Parents’ Association of KZN, emphasised that parents needed to play an active role in the fight against school violence.