The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) yesterday said the 14-year-old Mbilwi Secondary School learner arrested for allegedly assaulting fellow learner Lufuno Mavhunga did not apply for bail as expected.
“The matter of the child in conflict with the law could not proceed today (Tuesday) in the Thohoyandou Children’s Court. The matter should be heard by a neutral chair (presiding officer) to ensure a neutral power balance between the interest of the State and the interests of the child,” said NPA Limpopo spokesperson Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi.
She said the current presiding magistrate is privy to the details of the preliminary inquiry conducted on the Grade 10 learner and a new magistrate has to be appointed to the case.
“The case has been rolled over to April 22 in order to have a new presiding officer. The docket should be referred to the office of the director of public prosecutions in order to receive the certificate. This offence falls under schedule number 2.”
She said that in the meantime, the learner would be kept at a correctional youth centre until her next appearance.
The 14-year-old was arrested after an April 12 video – in which she allegedly assaulted a fellow learner, Lufuno Mavhunga – went viral.
Lufuno later died by suicide at her parents’ home.
Earlier, Malabi-Dzhangi said the learner last week appeared before a presiding officer and that process had been concluded.
“The child in conflict with the law assaulted another learner who later committed suicide. This matter will be dealt with according to the Child Justice Act prescripts.”
Lufuno was buried in Limpopo on Saturday. At an emotional memorial service on Friday, her brother Kenneth recounted the six-hour trip he undertook from Pretoria to Limpopo when the teenager took her life after videos showing how she was bullied and assaulted were widely circulated online.
“We drove for six hours and I can tell you that in those six hours, we hardly spoke for 30 minutes. We were so quiet in the car. We did not know what to talk to each other (about). We understand she is gone and now she is no more,” he told the memorial service.
“Lufuno was the last daughter of our family. She was loved by everyone in our family, but more than anything, Lufuno was a human being. Lufuno was created in the image of God, like all of us.
“When we saw Lufuno, we should have seen God. We should have seen the image of God.”
One of the viral videos shows Lufuno having a heated conversation with another learner before they are interrupted by a third who slaps her several times.
Lufuno does not fight back but instead tries to reason with her attacker. In the background, other students can be heard cheering on the perpetrator.
A second video of the same incident shows the two girls being separated by a male learner. Lufuno’s attacker lands a few more slaps and pulls her hair before they are separated.
African News Agency (ANA)