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Forest high pupil was bullied 'for four months' before attack

The best friend of deceased Daniel Bakwela, who was also stabbed outside Forest high school's premises. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso African News Agency (ANA).

The best friend of deceased Daniel Bakwela, who was also stabbed outside Forest high school's premises. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso African News Agency (ANA).

Published Jun 5, 2019


Pupils at the Turffontein, Joburg, school, which became infamous this week, have described it as a “prison” where gangs thrive. One of the survivors of Monday’s horror attack blamed older pupils for bringing chaos to the school.

Daniel Bakwela, 18, was stabbed to death, allegedly by a fellow pupil, outside school on Monday. Two other pupils were hospitalised.

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The 20-year-old stabbing suspect was due to appear in court on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, pupils at the school called for it to be dissolved.

“This school should be called ‘Forest High Correctional Service’. When you get into the toilet, the older guys tell you that this is not a place for small boys and you are forced to pay money.

"They also tell you to massage their penises and make them ejaculate. Almost 99% of the school is either on weed or some kind of a drug,” said one learner.

He added that teachers assaulted pupils if they were seen outside during a “toilet break” and took money and clothing items from them.

“The principal knows exactly what is happening. He relaxes in his office the whole day. That is why people disrespect him because he doesn’t do his job,” said one learner.

He added that the chaos at the school forced many pupils to bunk school.

According to another pupil, two rival gangs, the South Top Kids and the Italian Destruction Vele, had members inside and outside the school.

“The only way to stay safe is to stand up for yourself and fight back - like in prison. If you don’t, forget it - you will buy lunch for someone and get beaten up every day.

Another challenge the pupils spoke of was the lack of extra-mural activities to keep them busy.

“There are no fun days, sports days or civvies. Even if you can go for yourself, you will see they don’t even open the field for us.”

A source who asked not to be named because of her links to the school governing body (SGB) said the pupils' allegations were not exaggerated.

“The SGB is not recognised by the school management. It is sidelined and cannot function, but is blamed when something goes wrong,” the source said.

The school’s Grade 12 pass rate for 2018 was 59%, while the overall performance of the other grades had deteriorated over the past three years. The source attributed this to general lawlessness.

On Tuesday, the media was blocked from entering the school’s premises and told to refer questions directly to the Gauteng Department of Education.

The department’s spokesperson Steve Mabona told The Star that the fresh allegations of sexual abuse would be investigated.

He said his department could make a thorough probe only once people came forward with information.

One of the victims of Monday’s attack claimed to have been bullied into silence at the school.

The boy, who cannot be named because of his age, was discharged from hospital on Tuesday and had stitches to his lower back.

“I was bullied for four months. It always used to happen and I tried fighting back. The only thing I want is for the older pupils at the school to be removed. They are bad news.”

Although he is ready to go back to school, his mother wants to fast-track the process of changing schools.

“It's sad, especially since they have been friends since primary school. We are fortunate and I am pained for Daniel's family,” she said.

She also said she did not believe it was a gang war, more especially because her son is a top achiever.

Daniel’s uncle, Guio Nzamba, dispelled rumours of his nephew’s death being gang related.

“He was a good boy, a churchgoer and was very helpful in the community, so it is sad for us.

"People always come with rumours. They don’t live with Daniel, but we do. Everyone comes with their own speculation and I’m speaking to you as his uncle,” said Nzamba.

Although the DA’s PR councillor, Tyrell Meyers, said the drug problem was prevalent in the area and had been growing over the last 10 to 15 years, police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo said that over the past five years, no gang- or drug-related incidents had been reported to the SAPS.

The Star

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