02/03/2014 Durban Songezo Ntola's class mate singing for him for the last time. PICTURE: SIBUSISO NDLOVU

Durban - The Education Department will be reviewing the environment at schools in the province and making them safer following the mysterious death of a 9-year-old schoolboy in Hammarsdale.

MEC Peggy Nkonyeni was speaking at the funeral service of Songezo Ntola, the Georgedale Primary School pupil who appears to have accidentally hanged himself while playing with a rope in class.

Nkonyeni said the department was troubled by the “unusual” death.

“After hearing about this incident we thought it would be wise to do research and look into how many deaths of this nature have occurred, and we found that we have never come across an incident of this nature before,” she said.

“We are going to formulate a policy which will prevent further incidents. We will also put this in front of the Minister of Education and discuss a way forward,” said Nkonyeni.

Songezo, who according to his family could not even tie his own shoelaces, had allegedly tied a 60cm rope to the burglar bars of a window near where he sat in class, and hanged himself while his teacher was out of the classroom last Monday.

Speaking to the Daily News at the funeral, Ntola’s aunt, Mbausi Hadebe, said while the department and the school were being supportive, the family was still in the dark about what happened that day.

“We are hearing different stories about what happened.

“The principal told us Songezo was found in a seated position, while the department is telling us that he was found under his desk,” Hadebe said.

Hadebe said the family appreciated the efforts being made to help them, and that they were hoping police involvement in the matter would yield a clearer explanation.

Education department head Dr Nkosinathi Sishi said they had visited Georgedale Primary on Friday and spoken to Songezo’s Grade 2 teacher to try to determine what led to the incident.

“It is not easy to deal with something of this nature and we are working with the police to get to the bottom of this,” Sishi said.

Addressing the congregation at the service at the John Wesley church inside the school premises, one of his classmates described “Tola”, as Songezo was affectionately known, as a good friend who enjoyed joking around.

She said “Tola” was their class prefect.

“We are hurt by what happened because he was a great friend to us all. We will always remember him,” she said.

Daily News