Soshanguve learner attempts suicide over teacher ’bullying’ incident
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Pretoria - The family of a 13-year-old Grade 9 learner alleged to have attempted suicide following bullying by a school teacher are unhappy with the lack of urgency displayed by education stakeholders in dealing with the matter.
The family reported last week that the Grade 9 pupil from Rethomile Junior Secondary School in Soshanguve had been admitted to Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital after she swallowed pills following an altercation with her life orientation teacher.
According to the family, the child had since the beginning of the year been complaining of being mistreated by the teacher.
Of the incident that led to the attempted suicide on May 6, the learner had allegedly been making noise inside the classroom with other learners, much to the dismay of the teacher.
They said according to the learner, the teacher made all the learners stand in front of the class, and upon hearing the girl giggling, decided to kick her out of the class.
The following day, after not being handed a pamphlet like the other learners, the girl proceeded to apologise to the teacher, who allegedly would not hear of it.
She was allegedly dragged out of the classroom and instructed by the teacher to not return to her class.
“I feel betrayed and angry as a mother because if the teacher had a problem with my child’s behaviour she should have at least informed me or tried to speak to us as a family, than to deny her access to the class.
“We have attended a meeting at the school but it feels as though they are trying to protect the teacher, which we can’t stand for. What happens to the child when she gets out of the hospital? How will she even be able to go back and face that teacher again?” the mother, who cannot be named to protect the learner’s identity, asked.
An aunt of the learner said the child was discharged from the hospital on Thursday and was keen on resuming her studies. However, she feared further victimisation.
“She now has to return to school as she does not want to miss out on anything, but she’s just not emotionally ready to face her teacher. So we want to know what happens to her education while they investigate this matter.
“It just feels like what happened to Lufuno Mavhunga (a pupil who committed suicide after being assaulted by a fellow pupil). The school and department are not taking this seriously because there are already talks intimidating learners who have to testify. Maybe if things had ended up like Lufuno, then they would act speedily.”
Education spokesperson Steve Mabona said the department was aware of the matter and viewed the allegations in a very serious light.
Mabona said investigations were under way, and the necessary disciplinary action would be taken.
In the interim, he said psycho-social support had commenced to assist the family and all those affected by the incident.