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The signs were there, says mother of bullied Isipingo suicide victim

Asanda Thethwayo, a Grade 10 pupil at Isipingo Secondary School, died in hospital earlier this month after swallowing a cocktail of tablets and drinking two litres of paraffin.

Bullied Isipingo suicide victim Asanda Thethwayo. Picture: Supplied.

Published May 18, 2022

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DURBAN - GRIEVING mother Thabi Thethwayo says weeks before her daughter’s death, she kept to herself and lived in constant fear.

Asanda Thethwayo, a Grade 10 pupil at Isipingo Secondary School, died in hospital earlier this month after swallowing a cocktail of tablets and drinking two litres of paraffin.

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She was admitted to hospital on May 3, and died two weeks later.

“Her uncle and I used to reprimand her for staying in her room and sleeping all the time. Whenever we were outside or walked to the shop, she would not walk on the sidewalk like everyone, but she would distance herself as if she was afraid or she was ready to run,” said the mother.

Thethwayo said a week before her death, her daughter told her that she had no friends and that she was burdened at school, but that was the first and last time they heard her say anything of that nature.

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She said she started to notice a change this year when she started Grade 10 and was separated from her friends as they chose different subject streams.

“Asanda was beautiful and well mannered. I just struggled to find any reason why any child would bully her.

“Recently I noticed that she always had her mask on, she never took it off even when she was inside the house. When I asked her she said she wore it so that no one could make fun of her,” said Thethwayo.

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She said some pupils from her daughter’s school who visited after hearing of Asanda’s death told her that she had been targeted by known bullies in the school who ridiculed her over her thick lips and chipped tooth.

“When she was younger she

fell and chipped her tooth. I never thought that something so small would lead to her experiencing any torture,” she said.

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Thethwayo said she visited the school to report the matter after Asanda was admitted to hospital, and they promised to investigate and called a school governing body (SGB) meeting.

“At the meeting there were no members of the SGB. I feel like the school is not taking the matter seriously,” she said.

The IFP has called for an urgent inquest and for Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu to investigate.

“We call upon the MEC for Education to urgently investigate this tragic incident, in particular the allegations that one of the alleged perpetrators was accepted at Isipingo, despite being asked to leave a previous school due to charges of bullying,” said the IFP’s Mntomuhle Khawula.

The IFP urged parents to pay close attention to sudden changes in their children’s behaviour as this could be a sign that they were victims of bullying.

Asanda will be laid to rest on Sunday. The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education had not responded to a request for comment by the time of publication.

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