Lufuno Mavhunga suicide: Community leaders plan meeting to reconcile families
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Pretoria - The case of the 14-year-old pupil accused of assaulting 15-year-old Lufuno Mavhunga was yesterday postponed to April 28 and 29, after the prosecution opposed bail.
The State cited the teenager’s safety, following threats from the community calling for justice.
The accused appeared behind closed doors at the Thohoyandou Children’s court yesterday.
Speaking to the media outside court yesterday, Limpopo National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Mashudu Malabi-Nzhangi said: “The defence lawyers gave their affidavits and closed their case.
“The State called the investigating officer, who testified and explained that we could not allow the child back into the community because she would not be safe. The officer gave examples of incidents that had happened in the past week. We can’t disclose what that evidence is, but the child is safer at the child care centre.”
Yesterday, the Pretoria News reported that residents of Tshirenzheni village near Thohoyandou, where Mavhunga comes from, were baying for the accused’s blood, demanding justice.
The girl was apprehended by police last week after a video of her attacking Mavhunga outside Mbilwi Secondary School in Sibasa, which both teenagers attended, went viral.
Mavhunga subsequently took her own own life. This sparked outrage across the country, with people calling for justice.
The community had planned to go out in numbers to picket outside court yesterday. However, Tshirendzeni chief Bangani Tshiovhe summoned them to refrain from going there, saying they would be bringing unnecessary tensions to the community.
In an interview, he told the Pretoria News that although the accused had to be punished so that she fixed the wrongs that she did, the community should not take it upon themselves to do that.
“The law must take its course. If it were up to me, I’d keep her in jail so that she is safe, because the community might hurt her, fearing that she might do what she did to Lufuno to other kids,” Tshiovhe said.
A Grade 9 pupil at Mbilwi said he was passing the spot where the assault took place when he overheard that the altercation started when Mavhunga blocked the accused on Facebook. The accused then reprimanded Mavhunga and assaulted her in the process.
“This beef is all from Facebook. Lufuno blocked the other girl and she got angry. But as far as I know her, she is not like that. I think she was consumed by anger. She is not a bully,” the pupil said.
Meanwhile, in a telephonic interview prominent Chief Livhuni Matsila, who is the mediator between the two families, said that the two families had planned to meet for the first time this coming Sunday to reconcile.
He said: “As the Matsila Royal House we believe that it is important for the two families to reconcile in the best interest of society, so we promote a message that says whatever happens needs people to hear one another and express their views.
“The Mavhunga family is willing to extend an olive branch to the accused’s family. I was speaking to them and they have said that they will welcome them with warm hands.”
He added that communities should be careful of isolating the accused and her family.
“As much as the confrontation happened, this girl did not contemplate that Lufuno would eventually take her own life. I think if she had foreseen that, she would have not done what she did. She is probably as traumatised as everybody else where she is. If we are not careful we will send her to her death as well. She must not be labelled a bully.”
Matsila said the meeting would be led by himself and pastors from the area.
Efforts to speak to Lufuno’s elder brother, Kenneth Mavhunga, who is the family’s spokesperson, were fruitless.
The family of the accused refused to speak to the media.