A 13-year-old girl has allegedly committed suicide at home after a bullying incident.
A preliminary investigation into the incident suggests that the learner was allegedly bullied by a fellow Grade 7 learner, who threatened to distribute a video depicting the deceased learner naked.
According to the Gauteng Department of Education's statement, the deceased learner reported the bullying to one of the teachers after school on Valentine's Day, and by that time the accused learner had already left the school premises.
The department said it was unfortunate that the incident occurred before the necessary disciplinary process was taken, as the deceased was absent on Friday, February 15.
“The matter is still under investigation and necessary action will be taken against all implicated learners,” said the department’s spokesperson, Steve Mabona.
The Department’s Psycho-social Unit has been dispatched to the school, working together with personnel from Sinoville Social Crime prevention Unit, to provide counselling and pastoral care to the family of the deceased, as well as the school community.
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi sent condolences to the family of the deceased learner.
“We hope that the family will find comfort in the knowledge that we too share their loss. No words are enough to express our sorrow at a loss of a child,” said Lesufi.
The department said it had a zero tolerance policy to bullying or any form of misconduct.
“Anyone found to be transgressing this policy is dealt with in line with South African Schools Act (SASA) code of conduct, which governs all schools. Schools are urged to enforce their codes of conduct to deal with bullying and other disciplinary matters,” said Mabona.
The department also strongly condemned fighting between two learners from Lyttleton Manor School in Centurion.
In the incident that occurred on Friday, a boy and a girl were captured while fighting during break time by fellow learners and the video was circulated.
According to the department, both parents of the implicated learners were called to the school to discuss disciplinary processes.
“Preliminary investigations revealed that it was the girl learner who instigated the fight by attacking the boy learner, who retaliated as a result, as seen on the video,” said Mabona.
“Subsequently, both learners have since been placed on precautionary suspension since Monday, pending the disciplinary hearing,” he added.
The department dispatched its Psycho-social team to the school to provide necessary support to those who were affected by the incident.