‘This is the end’: KZN matric pupils studying for exams robbed at gunpoint
At least 58 pupils were at the school with two teachers when they were robbed and assaulted.
Matric pupils were studying for a science paper at night when they were robbed. Photo for illustration: citizen.co.za/ Tracy Lee Stark
We thought we were going to die.
These are the words of some of the pupils from Georgetown High School in Edendale who were attacked and robbed of their valuables and cash during an overnight study session on Saturday evening.
As many as 58 pupils were at the school with two teachers and were preparing for their physical science paper 2 examination, which they wrote on Monday.
It is alleged that three armed men broke into the premises by cutting through the fence of the school.
Security guard and pupils held at gunpoint
They also reportedly held the security guard at gunpoint and demanded keys to the offices.
When the security guard and the teachers refused to give them the keys, the armed men then fired gunshots at the padlocks in an attempt to blast them open.
When that failed, the men then climbed over the wall to gain entry into the classrooms where the pupils were busy with the study session.
One of the pupils (whose name is known to The Witness) said when she first saw the three men entering the classroom with guns in their hands she thought she was going to die.
She said the first things the robbers said when they entered the classrooms was, “Where is sir? Where is the teacher?”
“What surprised us is that the teacher was in the front of the classroom and they did not even recognise him. They then started demanding cell phones and wallets.
“They then came next to me and pointed a firearm at me. For a second I thought, ‘This is the end’, I am going to die today.
“They demanded that I give them my cell phone and I told them I did not have it with me,” she said.
She said they continued to point a firearm at her and told her to stop lying and do what they said.
“I honestly did not have a cell phone with me, but someone else’s fell into my chair. I had no choice but give it to them even though I knew it did not belong to me.”
Another pupil said that since the incident happened, she has been traumatised and is struggling to sleep at night. She also cannot face eating.
“Once I hear something dropping, I scream because I just think about the whole thing that happened and the gunshots.
“The most difficult thing about this incident is that it happened during examination time but I will try and concentrate on my examinations because I want to get good results. Our school always gets good matric results and we want to do well too,” she said.
The pupils said they now have mixed feelings about attending extra classes and “cross-nighting” (studying all night).
They said they no longer feel safe.
“I think the only time I will attend is when I have someone to accompany me and fetch me from school. If not, then I do not think I will be able to attend.
“In the meantime, I know that I need these classes because they help us a lot,” said one of the pupils.
Counselling for pupils
The school principal, Simon Mahlaba said it was a difficult time for everyone at the school.
He said the pupils did receive counselling shortly after the incident and also on Monday before they wrote their physical science examination.
“About five pupils were also injured, because there was a stampede when everyone was trying to hide. The security guard was also assaulted and was taken to hospital. Other pupils even lost their identity documents, writing timetables and notes,” he said.
Extra classes to continue
Asked whether the school was going to continue with extra classes at night, he said they would, but that they would initially have to work on the security issue.
“There are members of the community who have volunteered to be at the school in groups during the lessons to ensure the safety of the pupils. It is a difficult situation and the pupils do need continuous counselling.”
On Monday, the KZN MEC for Education, Mbali Frazer offered comfort to the teachers and pupils who were violently attacked during the incident.
MEC Frazer expressed her shock and disappointment and condemned it as a “barbaric act” and called for the police to apprehend the criminals.
The school governing body did not respond to queries by the time of publication.