Stray bullet through classroom window hits learner at Lotus Gardens school
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Pretoria - A Grade 10 learner at Fusion Secondary School in Lotus Gardens was on Tuesday hospitalised after she was wounded by a stray bullet while in a classroom.
It is believed the bullet was fired by unknown men engaged in a gunfight.
According to the Department of Education, the stray bullet was fired from the street and penetrated the classroom window and hit the 15-year-old learner in her back.
Department spokesperson Steve Mabona said, subsequent to the incident, “the learner who got hit by the bullet was accompanied by her friend to the admin block to report the injury; the principal attended to the child in the sick room to determine what happened”.
He said first aid was applied at the advice of paramedics, who were immediately summoned.
Mabona said the learner was receiving medical attention in hospital. “We can also confirm that the police are investigating the circumstances surrounding this unfortunate incident,” he said.
Mabona said the incident took place between midday and 12.45pm during break time.
“According to the information at our disposal, it is alleged that the learner was tragically wounded by a stray bullet following the violence that took place outside the school premises,” he said.
“This report serves to confirm that violence did not happen inside the school premises nor did it involve any learner of the said school.”
The department, he said, dispatched officials from the psycho-social unit to render counselling services to the school and the affected family.
“We strongly condemn senseless acts of violence which threaten the safety of our learners in and around our schooling environment, which compromises their education,” he said.
Asked whether there was sufficient security at the school, Mabona said it was “adequate”, adding that the department was “closely monitoring the situation”.
The incident has since elicited criticism from the Educators' Union of South Africa (Eusa), which condemned the school principal for allegedly forcing the teachers and learners to go back to class after the shooting incident.
The union called for the temporary closure of the school, until all teachers and learners received counselling.
Union spokesperson Kabelo Mahlobogwane said Eusa was shocked and angered by "the senseless leadership" allegedly displayed by the principal.
"The principal’s conduct was uncalled for and proper steps need to be taken against her," he said.
He said that two unknown men wielding automatic rifles were seen shooting at and chasing a man, who also had a rifle, outside the school yard.
Mahlobogwane took a swipe at the department for allegedly victimising teachers for arming themselves "in defence against criminality while all department offices across the province have high security measures".
Mabona declined to respond to the union’s allegations, saying: “We can’t comment on allegations, we will await an official complaint."
Regarding claims that the principal failed to suspend all learning activities after the incident, he said: “According to the information at our disposal, the principal did not force teachers to continue with the day’s learning activities after the shooting incident."
He, however, added that the department was currently investigating the matter.
The police had yet to comment by late yesterday.