The Gauteng Education MEC Matome Chiloane has expressed concern over the recent suicides and suicide attempts by pupils from Tsakane Secondary School in Brakpan.
Earlier this month two girls died by suicide by consuming poison, while four other pupils, two girls and two boys, are currently in recovery after ingesting poison.
“The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) is regrettably aware of an incident where two girls in Grades 8 and 12 from Tsakane Secondary School allegedly consumed poison at their respective homes and unfortunately passed away on Monday, August 7, and Tuesday, August 8, 2023, respectively,” Chiloane said.
He said a Grade 8 pupil attempted to commit suicide in full view of his peers.
“According to information at our disposal, another Grade 8 boy brought poison to the school on Tuesday, August 8, 2023, and consumed it in full view of other pupils, following the two previously reported deaths. However, this pupil was immediately rushed to a local medical facility and is currently recovering.
“On a much sadder note, we were made aware of two other girls and a boy pupil who also allegedly consumed poison but are fortunately recovering at a medical facility,” Chiloane said.
He also confirmed the death of a general worker at Tsakane Secondary School who committed suicide by consuming poison at his home on August 18.
Chiloane also rubbished the fake news doing its rounds on social media.
“We are also aware of a video that has gone viral on social media showing two other girls being assisted to stand, with false reports that they also consumed poison, which is not true.
“The video footage was captured on Monday, August 21, 2023, during a community prayer at the school, in which some pupils were emotionally moved by the passing of their fellow pupils.
“Therefore, it must be clarified that there is no pupil who consumed poison at school and died on school premises,” Chiloane said.
Officials visited the school on Tuesday with law enforcement agencies and social workers.
Pupils were provided with psycho-social support and classes continued without disruption.
The department’s Employee Wellness Team will also be deployed to the school to assist staff members.
Chiloane said a meeting will be held with parents on Sunday, August 27, to address the concerning behaviour.
“We are gravely concerned by the recurring suicidal behaviour at Tsakane Secondary School. Pupils are encouraged to reach out to our officials and interact with professionals for necessary assistance by calling Childline on 116. We wish to convey our condolences to the families of the bereaved pupils and one general worker, wishing that the entire school community finds peace during this time,” Chiloane said.