Forest High stabbing: Parents complained about 'drug den' school
Gauteng / 4 June 2019, 07:20am / Siphumelele Khumalo
A 20-year-old Grade 11 learner spent a cold and lonely night behind bars on Monday night after the murder of his schoolmate and attempted murder of two others whom he allegedly stabbed.
It’s believed that the learner was behind the cold-blooded killing of Daniel Bakwela, 18, who was attacked outside his Forest High School in Turffontein on Monday in what is thought to have been part of ongoing gang feuds in the area. The two other learners, aged 18 and 15, were rushed to hospital.
When The Star arrived at the scene, the deceased’s parents were weeping hysterically a few metres away from their son’s body.
It was believed that the fight started on Friday and continued on Monday with the fatal stabbing.
Daniel and those who were injured were not supposed to be at school on Monday but were believed to have come to confront the suspect, who was sitting an exam. The incident led to the suspension of the exams for two days.
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi also visited the school and was seen standing next to Daniel’s body.
A parent, who asked not be named, said the school was a drug den and Monday’s events were inevitable.
“As aggrieved parents, we have reported time after time that the school was a drug den and sent a letter to the department.
“Someone in the department then warns the principal that someone in the school is feeding them information about the illegal shenanigans.
“Once the principal knows, he tries to find out who it is and no one wants to be victimised or pointed out, so it never really goes anywhere,” said the parent.
According to her, things turned sour after current principal Mark Peterson joined the school in 2005.
“There are no functioning committees at the school - academics and disciplinary. If you come during school time, the learners are not even in class, they are loitering and doing nothing.
“The kids bunk classes, get caught with weed and other drugs, and are then taken to the office, but are back at school the next day. We are pained by this situation but there is nothing we can do because we too are scared,” she said.
Gauteng Department of Education spokesperson Steve Mabona said: “Our team have been on the ground and the school is now under the microscope. We are investigating.”
Lesufi said it was a shame coming to schools because of violent incidents. “It’s some of the things that we don’t look forward to but unfortunately have to do.
“We’re told that this is a gang-related activity because things started over the weekend, and his body was found with weapons,” he said.
Lesufi said the arrested learner, who was caught in Dobsonville, Soweto hours after the stabbings, had given the school a wrong home address, and police initially couldn’t find him when they went to his house.
Gauteng police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo said: “We are still obtaining statements from the people who were around (at the time of the incident) and those who are in hospital. The two who are in hospital are in a stable condition.”
He said the suspect was expected to appear in court tomorrow.
The DA’s PR councillor in the area, Tyrell Meyers, said the drug problem was prevalent in the area.
“The drug epidemic has been growing over the last 10 to 15 years.
“They are easily accessible. Another factor that contributes to this is the overcrowding of houses and hijacked properties,” he said.
Meyers added that the area needed new recreational activities for teens as they were taking drugs out of boredom.
He said that in 2015 a five-year-old was killed after being caught in the crossfire of a drug-related war. In 2017, angry residents torched houses suspected to be drug dens.