The Transformation Alliance (TTA) is calling on the Gauteng Department of Education to thoroughly investigate the alleged bullying incident which led to a Grade 6 learner, Sibusiso Mbatha, committing suicide.
Mbatha was a learner at Khehlekile Primary school in Thokoza, Ekurhuleni.
In what appears to be Mbatha’s last WhatsApp message to his mother, he is alleging that he has been bullied by a teacher at his school.
Family spokesperson Phindile Ndengezi said they demand justice for Mbatha.
“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, Mbatha 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 Mbatha as he was openly gay.
According to a study by HJW attorneys in April 2021,
-More than 3.2 million learners are bullied yearly in South Africa.
-More than 67% of bully victims will not ask a teacher for help because they don’t think it will change their situation.
-90% of school bullying is carried out by learners.
-160 000 high school learners bunk schools daily to avoid being bullied.
-One in 10 learners drop out of school to avoid being bullied.
-16% of learners admit that they are victims of cyber-bullying. (Source: https://tinyurl.com/4pxrewup ).
Furthermore, in March this year, Statistics South Africa released a report on violence in primary schools in which it was stated that the second most common act of violence experienced by pupils was verbal abuse by teachers, which could take the form of insults, teasing and harassment.
“In addition to our call for a thorough investigation, we also call on the department to organise counselling for the learners at this school and offer a compulsory anger and people management training course to the teachers. As part of our offer to the electorate, TTA’s non negotiable core value of Quality Education, which included compassion training for teachers and teacher support, will be implemented should we be elected into government,” said TTA National Chairperson Tlhogi Moseki.
Visiting the family yesterday, MEC Matome Chiloane confirmed that an independent law firm will be appointed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the learner’s death, also emphasising on further psycho-social support to be provided to both the school and family.
“We are going to set up an investigation. I know that the family said a teacher, saying that he confessed that he said what he is accused of having said. Those are words that are not supposed to be said because they are discriminatory and that goes against principles and values that are outlined not only in our constitution but Batho Pele principle that we advance as government from all our employees. We have laws that guide us; we will utilise them to get to the bottom of this, if there should be accountability and measures, that will happen within fear or favour to anyone including the teacher,” said Chiloane.
The boy will be buried tomorrow.