Forest High School, where one of its pupils was stabbed to death, allegedly by another learner. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso / African News Agency / ANA
Johannesburg - South Africa is celebrating Youth Month, but residents in Turffontein in Johannesburg say they see no reason to join their compatriots as their children have lost their morals compared with the 1976 generation.

They said their children have shifted their focus to negative pursuits rather than building their future.

This was after a pupil Daniel Bakwela was stabbed to death allegedly by a fellow pupil outside Forest High School in Turffontein on Monday. Two other pupils sustained injuries.

Many parents said although the youth are not fighting for the same things the generation of 1976 fought for, they needed to focus on personal and socio-economic development.

A resident, Sizwe Gwebu, said the incident at Forest High was an example of a society which lacks morals.

“I think what happened at the school was a reflection of a society which has gone wrong. But we can’t blame children only. Even we, as parents, should take the blame for this dire situation because the children’s behaviour on the streets is a reflection of what is happening at home,” said Gwebu.

Family members of the Forest High School pupil who was stabbed to death by a fellow pupil were in court on Friday. Bhekikhaya Mabaso African News Agency (ANA)

The 48-year-old father of two also said that the bunking of classes at the school shows today’s youth are hopeless and have no dreams to better their lives.

“Something needs to be done about this situation because it is also happening at other schools. I have witnessed these gangsters fighting after school and I asked myself if these kids have a purpose in life. The situation is painful because these are future leaders. I asked myself, if we have these kinds of children, then what does the future hold for our country?”

Bongani Ndlalani, who transports Forest High pupils, said there was a need for parents and teachers to instil discipline in children.

He blamed the government for outlawing corporal punishment.

“Things have to go back to the basics. A child was put in his place as a child, and you would know what are you supposed to do as a child so that you don’t jump the boundaries. It’s unfortunate now that the changes in laws have interacted with how we should raise our children,” he said.

Tiny Dimema, 48, who was called in to the school on a case of dagga possession against her son, said today’s youth should be empowered with skills to deal with peer pressure.

“These children should compete for good things, not bad things. This is bad, because the 1976 youth died for a good cause. I really think today’s youth should be equipped to compete positively, and I can tell you, there won’t be any death like the one that happened here.

“It’s also sad that when they should be celebrating the victory of the 1976 class, they are bemoaning tragedies in our schools, which is not good. We have given our children too many freedoms, which are not guided and monitored,” Dimema said.

A teacher at Forest High echoed the sentiments, saying young people were no longer listening to their consciences. He pleaded with the government to review the Bill of Rights, adding that children became wild because of these rights.

Sunnyboy Kenga, the best friend of deceased Daniel Bakwela, was stabbed outside Forest High School. Bhekikhaya Mabaso African News Agency (ANA)

Seth Mazibuko, one the student leaders during the 1976 uprisings, said today’s youth lacked role models in the communities.

“Then, society was full of the generation of communal work and communal gain and common struggle. We shared common challenges of pain, bullets, blood, poverty and prison. The history and heritage of 1976 was written in common blood where classrooms were not only in the townships, but also in prison or detention cells. We spent more time in the classroom than in clubs. Was it better? Maybe, yes, because we shared pain and prosperity as a community. Today’s youth lack role models who are ethical and values-driven. There are no more role models in their communities. Even the statues of their renowned leaders are not in their communities but in the centres of those who never identified with them, and who might still be not identifying with them,” said Mazibuko.

Forest High School pupil Muhammad Mowela, 20, who allegedly stabbed Bakwela to death, remains in custody after his bail application was postponed for Monday. Mowela faces one count of murder and two of attempted murder.

Gauteng education department spokesperson Steve Mabona said: “There are protocols on how to ensure safety at our schools. We always advocate for a cluster approach to resolve safety concerns.

“Parents and other stakeholders needs to assist our schools; learners belongs to a community. Members of the public must report any criminal activity occurring in and around our schools to the law enforcement agencies.

“Our engagement with police will continue, learner ill-discipline is and will always be a concern, hence parents must assist to instil discipline in their children. It will be difficult for educators to operate in an environment dominated by ill-disciplined children.

“Educators should be more preoccupied and focus more on what is happening in the classroom than outside. Their role is to impart knowledge, and as such, their confidence and conducive working environment should not be eroded by ill-discipline.”

The Sunday Independent