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Pupil from Suncity was stabbed to death at school by another learner

Cebisa Secondary school SGB blames lack of infrastructure for the stabbing.

Mpumalanga MECs have vowed to come up with strategies to eradicate crime in schools, following the fatal stabbing of a Grade Nine pupil (17) at Cebisa Secondary School on August 16. The pupil from Suncity was stabbed with a knife in the chest by another learner (16) on the school premises during break time.

The suspect was arrested by the Ermelo police later that same day at his parents’ house on a farm between Ermelo and Breyten. It is alleged the two pupils belong to well-known notorious gangs from Wesselton and Suncity, and that the stabbing had resulted from an altercation between the gangs.

The MEC for safety, security and liaison, Vusi Shongwe, and the education MEC, Bonakele Majuba, visited Cebisa and the family of the deceased on August 18. They held a meeting at Laerskool Ermelo and engaged with local school principals and school governing board (SGB) members.

The Cebisa SGB’s chairperson, Pat Navela, said the issue of gangsterism is prevalent in the school, and they believe the school premises’ structure prevents them from hiring proper security. Mpumalanga News previously reported on the poor learning conditions and a lack of infrastructure at the school. It is situated in the former hostel of Thuthukani mine dwellers, and split into two when Lindile Secondary School was split up in 1996.

The area was referred to as a temporary placement until a new location could be found. Navela alleged the school had written several letters to Majuba’s office, enquiring when they would be moved to a new place, but no response was received. “We have tried several times to get security companies on board to guard the school, but they have turned us down due to the structure of the premises,” Navela said.

The Department of Education argues, however, that the issue of gangsterism begins in the community and extends to the schoolgrounds, and that residents should work together to help eradicate gangs in the community.

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Majuba said the department, board members and school management will not be able to deal with the challenge of gangsterism in schools alone, since it is now a societal challenge – therefore it needs communities to mobilise and come up with measures that will stop the issue from spiralling and destroying residents at large. “Gangsterism can happen anywhere. Now it is beginning to affect schools where learners lose their lives, it means the next victims will be teachers. We urge residents to come together and play a collective role in protecting our learners,” Majuba said.

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He said the department had a school fencing programme that was halted due to Covid-19, and promised to prioritise this school as soon as the programme resumed. Shongwe said he aims to tighten security in the area. According to him, the masterminds behind local gangs are well-known people in the area who prey on and use minors to commit crimes. “We are not going to leave this war until we win it. I am not going to despair and am not scared of these people – they are not animals.

Kids are an easy target for criminals because they think they will not get arrested due to their age, however, they are ruining the lives of these innocent children and action will definitely be taken against them,” Shongwe said. The Cebisa pupil was buried at Suncity on August 20.

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