Freak shooting of principal by Grade 6 learner difficult to prevent - teacher union

File Picture:Nokuthula Mbatha/IOL

File Picture:Nokuthula Mbatha/IOL

Published Feb 20, 2024


The shooting of a school principal at a Germiston primary school, by a Grade 6 learner, was an unfortunate accident which could barely have been prevented.

This was the view of the National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), who spoke to IOL News on Monday.

Naptosa executive director Basil Manuel said school teachers had a way of dealing with unruly learners, but in this case, no one could have anticipated that a 13-year-old boy from Primrose Primary School would be capable of arming himself with a firearm and pulling the trigger on the principal.

“Its really difficult to say how this matter should have been handled because teachers didn’t see this coming, how were teachers supposed to know that such a young boy would come to school carrying a gun... the teachers couldn’t have known that,” he said.

According to Manuel, when dealing with an errant leaner, teachers are always advised to report the learner to the principal and from there, they will get a directive on what should be done.

“When everything fails, that’s when the school should call the parents and then escalate the matter to the department. It’s a process to expel a learner because at the same time we want to show them direction before giving up on them,’’ he said.

Gauteng Education MEC Matome Chiloane revealed to the media that teachers at the school flagged the boy’s poor performance and had a meeting with the parents before the shooting incident.

Commenting on the meeting, Manuel said the meeting was held to address his performance and this was very common in all schools.

“Meetings with parents to address how their children are performing is quite common, and you can’t exactly pick up during these meetings that the child will now resort to violence.”

According to Chiloane, the learner, who was allegedly planning to shoot three teachers, will have to go undergo rehabilitation before he is accepted back at the school.

“We’ve seen through our own research that such children tend to have a repetitive behaviour, its either they learn from the incident... or they feel like they can do better next time.

“He will have to go through a stringent rehabilitative process and then we will take it from there,” he said.

Meanwhile, the child is expected to appear before court this week, while his father has since been arrested and is expected to also appear before a court on firearm-related charges of negligence.

The principal is still recovering from the gunshot wound in hospital.