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Gauteng learner told to leave his ‘gayism’ outside school premises commits suicide, family seeks answers and justice

Sibusiso Mbatha. | Supplied

Sibusiso Mbatha. | Supplied

Published Oct 27, 2023


Grade 6 learner Sibusiso Mbatha was found hanging in the bathroom at his home after he was allegedly told by a teacher to leave “gayism” outside the school premises.

Sibusiso, 12, from Khehlekile Primary School in Thokoza, Ekurhuleni, was found dead at his home on Monday evening, after allegedly being bullied at school over his sexual orientation.

It is alleged that a teacher told him to leave his “gayism” outside the school premises when it was school time.

Family spokesperson, Phindile Ndengezi, demanded justice for Sibusiso.

“All we want is justice for Mbatha, the teacher who failed to protect our child when he was insulted about being gay must resign or be fired as soon as possible!” said Ndengezi.

According to her, Sibusiso had a quarrel with a fellow learner (name withheld).

“Mbatha was insulted about being gay by a fellow learner. In intervening, the teacher told Mbatha to leave his gay sexuality outside the school premises. This is discrimination and it hurt our child. This teacher does not deserve to be around children,” she said.

Ndengezi further said the family and the community liked and accepted Sibusiso as he was openly gay.

She said he was even a member of a traditional group, Izintombi Zendindane, where young girls take pride of being responsible young people and virgins.

Ndengezi described Sibusiso as a very bubbly child with a big personality who had dreams of becoming a big-time celebrity the country has ever seen.

She said the same day of the incident, Sibusiso was moody and unhappy. He told his teenage sister that he wanted to tell her something, but he later left the house to go and play with his friends in the neighbourhood.

Ndengezi said Sibusiso told his friend that he was going to kill himself. He also told his mother that he was not going to school the next day.

“Mbatha used a skipping rope to commit suicide, a tenant discovered him while hanging from the roof. He was still alive, he was rushed to Phola Park Clinic, he was declared dead. On his thigh, he had written that he was going to kill himself,” said Ndengezi.

The family showed The Star team a text message where Sibusiso was bidding farewell to his mother.

“Mama (kiss emoji) bye (hand waving emoji) see you in heaven love you.

“I want to kill myself because of the bullying I get from my teacher (name withheld). He always say things that hurt me so bye”. He then sent a message of crying and broken heart emojis.

Gauteng Education MEC Matome Chiloane said he would appoint an independent law firm to investigate the circumstances surrounding the learner’s death.

Chiloane visited the home yesterday to convey his condolences to the family.

Chiloane said they were shattered by the incident, but assured the family that they would get to the bottom of it and action would be taken immediately after the outcome is known.

He added that an internal investigation to probe allegations of bullying at the school had been launched.

The police, said Chiloane, were also investigating the matter, adding that the Psycho-Social Support process of providing counselling started yesterday.

He said they would look closely into the matter.

A memorial service was to take place at the school today and his funeral will take place tomorrow at his home.

* The SA Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) offers free counselling for learners and parents.

You can call Sadag to talk on behalf of a loved one, colleague or friend. Trained counsellors are there to help and refer you to local counsellors, facilities and support groups: 080 021 2223 (8am to 8pm) / 080 012 1314 (8pm to 8am) or SMS 31393.

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