Pretoria - A 15-year-old boy from Soshanguve is still struggling to regain his speaking ability after his vocal cord was damaged by a fellow learner.
The incident happened inside the boys’ toilets while he was 9 and in Grade 4 at a primary school in Pretoria North.
He now attends a secondary school.
His mother Theo Nyamane, who wrote a book called School Bullying Impaired My Son’s Speech Permanently, told the Pretoria News how her son was constantly strangled, kicked and stabbed on the school grounds.
“They used to strangle him, kick him and put a knife down his throat,” she said.
Nyamane said her son initially never said a word to her about his plight at school.
But he was always living in fear of five bullies, who were much older than him.
Nyamane learnt about the bullying when she was called to school after her son had collapsed.
He was rushed to a doctor, who determined that there was something down his throat. The boy was hospitalised for at least three months. He failed Grade 4 because he missed schooling for a long time.
“They would constantly threaten to kill him with knives. They eventually pushed a knife down his throat and his vocal cord was affected,” she said.
Nyamane said the incident was triggered by jealousy from the bullies who were unhappy that her son came to school wearing an expensive pair of sneakers one day.
The bullies, she said, were eventually suspended from the school and some of their parents tried to bribe her not to pursue the matter with the police.
“I felt like the school had failed my son. I didn’t press charges because at the time I wanted to focus on the healing of my child,” she said.
She wrote a book in order to reach out to other people because “most kids can’t talk to their parents about the scourge”.
“I am trying to say to parents let us pay attention to our children,” she said.
Nyamane asked for her son’s identity to be concealed because she wanted to protect him until he was older. She said one of the learners at the school her son used to attend committed suicide because of bullying.
Nyamane lost her husband when her son was 4. “After the passing of my husband we went through counselling and he was okay.”
After the publication of her debut book she started a foundation called K-N named after her two boys.
Her other son was also stabbed while in Grade 12 and he couldn’t attend his matric farewell.
Through the foundation Nyamane continues to spread the positive message that there is always help out there for every dire situation.
She is on a mission doing talks at schools and corporate platforms about the subject of bullying. “I tell my audience that bullying can start with a lifestyle at home,” she said.
The 50-year-old motivational speaker said her message is well received by her audience. She is able to pique other parents' conscience that they might be “contributing to their kids' bullying”.
“Some parents don’t even realise that they are causing this. I always say to parents that bullies are not entirely bad people; they need help too.”