The Star editor, Japhet Ncube.
The Star editor, Japhet Ncube.

OPINION: NW school stabbing puts teacher safety under spotlight

By Japhet Mathanda Ncube Time of article published Sep 17, 2018

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The story of Gadimang Mokolobate, the Zeerust schoolteacher who was stabbed to death in a classroom by a 17-year-old learner, has once again shone the spotlight on safety and security in our schools.

It came in the wake of another incident, at a school in Eldorado Park, where a pupil pointed a gun at a teacher at school.

I also remember a video I saw on Twitter, in which two schoolgirls attacked a female teacher just outside the school premises. Just like in the Zeerust case, the teacher’s sin was to reprimand one of the learners.

There’s usually outrage when a teacher attacks a pupil at school, but when the roles are reserved, many of us turn a blind eye. It’s as if teachers don’t have rights in this democracy.

These incidents, for me, are a failure of parenting at both family and community level. How can your child own a gun or take a weapon to school, or belong to a gang, without your knowing about it?

In the Zeerust case, we hear that the same kid had run foul of the law when he brought marijuana to school. And the day before the stabbing he had been reprimanded for jumping the queue during the school’s nutrition programme.

Clearly a troublesome child. The school, parents and community should have nipped this problem in the bud. It’s too late now.

When I was growing up in the 1980s, the saying about a community raising a child rang true. If you escaped your parents’ eye, the community knew what you got up to and you were made to account for your actions.

Every parent in the community was your parent, every child your child.

Nowadays, we see schoolchildren let loose in the Joburg CBD. Wearing their uniforms, some are seen drinking or smoking, kissing openly and getting up to all sorts of things.

I doubt their parents even know where they are or what they get up to. Until there’s a shooting or a stabbing at school, by which time parenting has failed.

If I tried to stop the 14-year-old boy smoking and drinking at Gandhi Square, I would probably get stabbed or shot.

Our kids have become criminals. It’s a reflection on us as a country.

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