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Johannesburg - A lifeless body hung from a rope attached to the ceiling. On the floor below, a statement of matric results and a suicide note lay side by side.
Victor Mabotja, 21, of Limpopo’s Mmotong wa Perekisi village, north-west of Polokwane, took his life after he failed matric for the third time.
“Live life to the fullest. I love you all,” he wrote on the note for his family. Victor desperately wanted to pass matric so that he could study at university.
The talented young marathon athlete had dreamt of becoming a maths and physical science teacher. He also had ambitions to coach athletics to the village kids.
But suicide brought all those dreams to naught. The tragedy was first discovered by his 59-year-old mother Elizabeth on Saturday night. She became concerned when she couldn't find Victor after 8pm. Her fears grew when he didn’t respond to her phone calls.
No one in the house, including Victor’s siblings, knew what had happened to him. When Elizabeth passed her son’s bedroom, she saw that the door was slightly open. Cautiously, she went in.
“I was gripped with terror when I saw him there,” said Elizabeth during an interview with The Star at her home on Sunday.
Victor’s brother Joseph said he last saw him earlier that afternoon.
“He was in a jolly mood and joked with young kids,” said Joseph. But Victor’s elder brother, Thabo, who is a church pastor, revealed that Victor earlier said he was unhappy with his results.
“I tried to reassure him that he had at least tried something. I said failing matric did not mean the end,” said Thabo. He said Victor showed no suicidal signs.
“Not at all, he was actually a strong person. He always exuded confidence,” said Thabo. Joseph said Victor first failed matric at OR Mabotja High School in 2010.
“He repeated in 2011 and failed again. Last year he went to a private college, and he failed again,” he said.
The family said he liked school, and that he was also a maths and science tutor.
“Some of the pupils he helped in maths and science are at university today. I think the thought that he was struggling with matric became too overwhelming for him,” said Thabo.
His mother said she felt disappointed that Victor had killed himself.
“We were still looking for so much from him. We are really disappointed.”
She said she was planning to take Victor to a further education and training college this year. “My message to other learners who are under similar pressure is that they must seek counselling. There are many other career paths they can follow without a matric.
Taking one’s life is no solution,” she said.