Cape Town - A triple tragedy has left Sea Point High School teachers and pupils reeling after three youths linked to the school were killed in four days.
On Monday, the school body gathered with friends and family to pay tribute to the three lives that were brutally ended in three incidents this month.
Grade 10 pupil Tsholofelo Goitsimang Leburu was stabbed to death in Nyanga while defending her aunt from an attacker.
Siphelele Manona, who matriculated from the school last year, was stabbed to death in Gugulethu where he lived and worked as a photographer for an automotive company.
And Ashwin Robertson was shot and killed while sitting in his car. Robertson did not attend Sea Point High, but his father is a staff member at the school.
“I am at a loss to describe the immense grief we are all feeling,” said principal Piet Botha.
“Three people very close to our hearts lost their lives in such a shocking and violent way.
“These deaths have a huge impact on all of us. It is as if we have lost members of our own family.”
Relatives of Tsholofelo and Siphelele attended the memorial service.
School friends made a procession into the school hall carrying white lilies, tears streaking their faces.
Lee-Anne Wichman from the Learner Representative Council said she was not looking forward to returning to classes without Tsholofelo.
“Personally, Goitsemang has been a special part of my life,” she said. “Class 10GA is not going to be the same without her.”
Close friend Bonolo Mofohla said that when she returned from school holidays on Sunday, she still “half-expected” her friend to arrive late as usual.
“After I found out, I didn’t believe it at all,” Bonolo said.
“When I came to school I expected to see her. She’s usually late to school, so I was waiting at the gate still expecting to see her.”
The pair had loved taking photographs of each other, and a picture of Tsholofelo with a new hairstyle was featured in a frame at the memorial service.
“Goitsemang in Tswana means who knows’,” Bonolo said. “Who knew that we would be using that picture today at her memorial.”
Tsholofelo’s cousin-in-law, Likentso Shuping, said she was the first born child, and was survived by her brother.
“She lived an amazing life, always full of smiles. We will miss her dearly.”
Close friends of Siphelele, who had also matriculated from the school last year, returned to pay their respects.
Zithandile Nkonji jokingly said he had been a bad influence in Siphelele’s life.
“He had a hairstyle that was illegal at Sea Point High,” he reminisced. “We went to the barbershop and I said he should go for it.”
Back in high school, the two friends had planned to study together in Joburg.
“He always used to tell me how he wanted to leave Cape Town to get out of Gugs,” Zithandile said. “So I said I have a plan, we can both go study at the University of Johannesburg.”
They both sent in their applications.
“Things didn’t go accordingly,” Zithandile said. “I went to Joburg and started a life there, and left him in Cape Town.
“When I found out about his death I thought about that advice I gave him of moving to another city.”