Wednesday, 17 October 2007

'Teachers have no control'

Eduan Roos, Beeld

Shocked pupils and teachers from Forest High School, in Forest Hill in the southern part of Johannesburg, had to receive counselling after finding the body of Simon Mbele, 19, who was stabbed to death on the sports field by another pupil on Monday.

Mbele was involved in a fight with a Grade 8 boy at the school about 07:30. He was stabbed four times in the neck.

Kim Atkinson, 17, a pupil, said she had just arrived at school to get notes for the exams which started on Tuesday when she saw a large group of pupils running to the sports field.

Knives brought to school

"I asked them what was happening and they shouted: "Somebody is dead". When we arrived we noticed a number of emergency workers and realised it was Simon."

Police spokesperson captain Schalk Bornman said pupils noticed the two boys having an argument at a building on the sports field.

"They saw the 14-year-old boy running away and went to see what had happened. They found the boy's body. He was stabbed in the neck four times with a sharp object."

Nick Dollman, spokesperson for Netcare 911 emergency service, said the boy was found dead in a ditch at the building. According to Atkinson and her friend, Amanda Hicks, 17, there were fist fights nearly every day at the school.

"Teachers have no control over the children. The only thing that will help is if corporal punishment is brought back," said Atkinson.

"Children bring knives to school and jump over the fences to bunk whenever they feel like it. And that is not only the case here, we know about other schools where it is a lot worse."

Apparently the deputy principal at this school was seriously assaulted by a pupil a couple of months ago.

Mark Petersen, the principle, could not be reached for comment, but he had told 702 Talk Radio on Monday that it was "an isolated incident".

"It's the first incident of violence that I know about," Petersen told 702. "Some of the pupils and teachers have received counselling and we will continue doing so."

Pupils jumped over the fence and left the school while police members were still combing the murder scene.

Panyaza Lesufi, spokesperson for Angie Matshekgo, Gauteng MEC for education, said a top level investigation had been launched into the incident.

"The boys apparently argued over money. We are shocked by the murder and have already spoken to several role players, among them the MEC for community safety (Firoz Cachalia)," said Lesufi.

He said Mbele's parents also received counselling at length.

"Security at schools is not the responsibility of the education department," he said.

"Schools are part of the bigger community and crime and violence occur everywhere every day."

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