DURBAN - The family of one of the four pupils stabbed on school premises this week said that they feared for his life.
The family spoke to the media when MEC for Education Kwazi Mshengu visited Dassenhoek Secondary School in Pinetown on Thursday. The pupils were stabbed during an armed robbery on Wednesday morning.
It is alleged that three suspects gained entry to the school by breaking through a fence. The pupils were assaulted and robbed of phones and cash.
Two of the suspects were reported to be former pupils, while the other was a pupil at Thornwood High School in KwaNdengezi, Pinetown. One suspect was apprehended on Wednesday, while the other two were arrested on Thursday.
During the incident, one security guard was on duty. The other was off duty to get vaccinated.
One of the attacked pupils, Kgotsofalang Selai, who had swollen eyes and lips, said they were trying to fight off the suspects when one of them hit him in his mouth with a gun.
Kgotsofalang said he was sitting with the other pupils behind the school’s toilets when the suspects found them.
“They started manhandling us, asking for our phones. There was an altercation because we tried fighting for our belongings. One of them hit me with the back of a gun, and I started bleeding. We were defeated because they were carrying guns and knives. They beat us up and stabbed us before they took my phone and the little money we had,” said Kgotsofalang.
His guardian, Phindi Nyati, said they were scared he could be in danger because the suspects allegedly threatened to find him.
She said if the government did something to protect their children and community, it would give them a sense of security.
“There have been a lot of similar incidents around this area and our schools. Our children are not safe. I am scared these guys will do something to him because he fought them. Their threats to him don’t put me at ease. I hope they get locked in jail for good,” Nyathi said.
SA Democratic Teachers Union KZN regional secretary Sicelo Mhlungu said the attacks on schools were a concern.
“We have had similar incidents which date back from 2007. We have received reports from our members that this area is not safe. They hear gunshots every now and then. We are happy that the MEC quickly responded to this incident. However, we want concrete support that will ensure the school is operating fully and safely. We don’t need such emergencies to address the issue of security,” said Mhlungu.
National Teachers Union chairperson Mandla Mgenge said: “We want the department to tell us what they will do to ensure that our teachers and pupils are safe. We shouldn’t be only seeing them on Friday because of the circumstances. We want action that puts our members’ safety first.”
KZN chief executive of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa Thirona Moodley said they were shocked by this senseless attack.
“Our children come to school to learn to secure their future, not to have their blood spilt. The criminals who did this must be brought to book. We wish the learners a speedy recovery so that they can get back to their books. Schools must be the hope for communities to break the cycle of poverty and provide our children with a future.”
Mshengu said they were concerned that communities were not united, and unable to fight to keep schools safe, adding that they should assist the police in reporting criminal offences.
“It is the community members who let these thugs run rampant. Community members know them and they know where they reside, but they don’t give information to the police. We are, however, grateful that there was no loss of life.
“What happened was not the teachers’ fault. They are equipped to educate and not to carry any weapons. It is becoming a risk to be a teacher, because of the challenges in our communities.”