Gauteng Education Department pupil deaths

Image via: Gauteng Education Department / Steve Mabona

Gauteng Education Department: 20 pupils reported dead since 16 January

The Gauteng Education Department is saddened by the number of pupil deaths reported in the last month.

Gauteng Education Department pupil deaths

Image via: Gauteng Education Department / Steve Mabona

The Gauteng Education Department is being put through the wringer in 2020, after it reported that a total of 20 pupils lost their lives since 16 January. 

When called Gauteng Education Department spokesperson Steve Mabona, he confirmed the devastating news. 

Pupil and principal reported dead in Gauteng  

Fana Khoele, 54, a principal at Sebetsa-O-Tholemoputso High School in Soweto, collapsed and died at his home on Monday 3 March. 

Zweli Dube, a Grade 8 pupil from the same school, died after he was struck by lightning on his way home from the institution on Friday 28 February. 

Watch: Panyaza Lesufi visits home of pupil

Scholar transport driver shot and wounded 

In another incident on Monday, a scholar transport driver was shot and wounded in full view of pupils in Benoni. Mabona said the driver was transporting pupils from Msholozi informal settlement when the incident occurred.

“The driver had delivered learners to other schools and was completing his last stop at Etwatwa Secondary School in Wattville. While seated in the bus, an unknown man approached and shot three times at the bus, with one shot hitting the driver above his right eye,” Mabona said.

The department believed the incident was linked to “simmering tensions” between itself and the Benoni Taxi Association, as owners were not pleased with the department’s provision of scholar transport in that area, said Mabona.

“We have called upon the police to assist in securing our learners’ buses and patrolling to be done at drop-off points. We will also explore the facilitation of a community meeting this evening to pave a way forward,” he added. 

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has called for peace in the implementation of the transportation initiative.

“We introduced scholar transport in February 2020 as one of the department’s initiatives to aid learners coming from disadvantaged backgrounds in the area, and as such necessary meetings were held with stakeholders to explain the implementation process accordingly,” said Lesufi.

Pupil commits suicide in separate incident 

Mabona said in a separate incident on Thursday 27 February, that a 13-year-old pupil from Springs Boys’ High School committed suicide at home.

“It is unknown why the boy, who stayed with his grandfather, decided to take his own life. Our psycho-social unit is supporting the school and family with the necessary counselling,” he said.

Also on Thursday, a Grade 9 pupil from Suncrest High School in Vanderbijlpark was knocked down by a car and had to be airlifted to Union Hospital in Alberton.

“We take this time to send our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and school community. No words are enough to express our sorrow at the loss of a child. We hope that the family will find comfort in the knowledge that we, too, share their loss,” said Lesufi.