QUESTIONS: Jeanette Ramasesane says teachers are witholding information about what led to her 15-year-old daughter’s suicide at school last month. On the right is the letter Lerato allegedly wrote before she died.Pictures: Matthews Baloyi ANA/African News Agency

Johannesburg - The grieving mother of a 15-year-old pupil who was found hanging in the sickbay at her school wants answers from the school, which she accuses of doing a drug test on her daughter without her consent.

Jeanette Ramasesane claims the school is hiding information about the death of her daughter Lerato which happened last month.

The school has been advised not to speak to the media.

Gauteng Department of Education spokesperson Steve Mabona said the department was in talks with the family.

However, Ramasesane disputed this.

“Which family are they talking to? The department has not contacted me,” she said.

According to Mabona, the school denies testing the children, yet many pupils at the school confirmed to The Sunday Independent that drug testing did take place.

“We have a zero tolerance of drug consumption or dealing in our schooling environment,” Mabona said.

“In all cases where a child is tested, parents of the child attend a meeting with the principal or deputies depending on who handled the case.

“Children who test positive are referred to the drug child programme coordinated by the police. Children who test positive for the second time are referred to Poortview Clinic for rehab or to government rehab facilities.

“As a department we are saddened by the passing of a child in our school and feel the pain of the family. No child should be put in a situation where he or she feels compelled to take his or her life.” But Ramasesane is not convinced and her biggest concern is about what governs the school’s drug-testing processes and why the school seems cagey around her daughter’s death.

“Kids can get mischievous, I get that, but why are we not getting any communication from the school? What did they say to my daughter that led her to killing herself?”

Ramasesane described her daughter as a quiet child who had never been in trouble at home or at school.

“When I asked who was supposed to be responsible for the child in the sickbay while disorientated I did not get an answer. When I asked about the drug-testing policy, I didn’t get an answer.

“I feel like the school is hiding far more than what I know at this point.”

When told what Mabona said, Ramasesane said she was appalled at how the department was defending the school. “I am stuck at this point. Where does one go to get answers if the department won’t even help you?

“They are buying the story the school is feeding them and aren’t hearing my side.”

Lerato was in Grade 10 at Jan de Klerk High School. Ramasesane said she was shocked when she was called at 10am and told that Lerato had committed suicide.

The school told her that Lerato had been sent to the sickbay that morning after walking into class late and “disorientated”.

“I was then provided with a confession letter handwritten by my daughter, where she confessed to smoking marijuana and committing to joining the school’s programme. I have never received any call from the school about this.

“How come I was not notified as a parent because she was a minor?” she asked. 

The Sunday Independent