File picture: Pixabay
File picture: Pixabay

12 Gauteng pupils have died since schools re-opened this year

By CHULUMANCO MAHAMBA Time of article published Feb 12, 2020

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Johannesburg - Twelve Gauteng pupils have died since the beginning of the 2020 academic year.

The latest death happened on Tuesday when  a 16-year-old Ferndale High School learner mysteriously fell from the third floor of the facility’s building, allegedly while suffering an epileptic fit.

Just a few days earlier on Sunday, a Grade 11 learner at the Tharabollo Secondary School in Vereeniging apparently committed suicide by drinking poison at home on Sunday.

The reason behind the suspected suicide is not know.

At the Ferndale High School in north Joburg, it appeared to be business as usual as learners were released from school at 2.30pm. The incident happened at about 9am and the learner was taken to hospital, where he later died from his injuries.

Parents who were waiting for their children after school questioned why the learners were not released early because many of them witnessed the tragic incident.

One of the learners told The Star that the deceased learner had jumped off the third-floor balcony during a lesson and that blood could be seen coming out of his head after the fall.

Department spokesperson Steve Mabona said the learner was diagnosed with epilepsy and he would occasionally have an epileptic attack. However, he would experience it in different forms.

Mabona said the incident happened when the learners were changing class between periods and the learner’s teacher was inside the classroom.

“According to the information we have, the educator just heard some noise from outside and within a split second, when the educator went outside to check, the learner was already on the ground,” he said.

Mabona said that while the learner was experiencing the epileptic attack, he climbed on to the balcony barricade of the third floor and then fell.

“When he landed, there were some learners downstairs because it was a changeover of periods so most of them witnessed the incident,” Mabona added.

Prior to the hospital declaring the learner dead, Netcare spokesperson Shawn Herbst told The Star that when they responded to a report of the fall, the learner was stabilised before he was transported to a nearby hospital.

However, the learner succumbed from serious injuries to the head in the presence of his family, who travelled with him from the school to the hospital.

The learner had also broken both of his arms in the fall.

The department sent their psychosocial unit to provide the necessary support and counselling to the staff and learners at the school and said they would return again this morning.

The learner from the Tharabollo Secondary School who committed suicide allegedly drank poison while alone at home.

On being found, she was rushed to Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, where she was certified dead on arrival,” said Mabona.

It was unknown what prompted the 17-year-old to commit suicide.

Police are in the process of investigating the circumstances surrounding both incidents.

A couple of police officers were seen coming out of the Ferndale school yesterday afternoon while classes were still in session.

At the weekend, two other learners in the province died, according to a statement released by Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on Monday.

A 17-year-old learner from the Oosrand Secondary School in Boksburg was assaulted by passengers in a taxi on Saturday. She subsequently jumped from the moving taxi and died on the scene.

On the same day, an 8-year-old learner from Durban Deep Primary School in Roodepoort drowned after she was swept away in flash floods at the Princess informal settlement.

All four incidents have brought the province's schools death toll since the beginning of the year to 12.

Mabona said the department was going through a very difficult period and that they had never experienced so much tragedy in just two months.

The MEC was expected to visit the Ferndale High School and the bereaved family of the learner in Cosmo City on Wednesday afternoon.

The Star

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