Citizen Reporter
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3 minute read
20 Feb 2020
11:36 am

I am not handling the deaths of these learners well – Lesufi

Citizen Reporter

The MEC was a guest speaker at the National Press Club in Pretoria on Wednesday 19 February when he spoke on the matter.

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi speaks during a media briefing at Mahlube Secondary School in Mamelodi East on 16 October 2017. The MEC's visit follows an alleged sexual assault of a pupil of the school by one of the school's private security guards. Picture: Yeshiel Panchia

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says he has not been handling the deaths of learners that have been occurring since the start of the year, reports Pretoria News.

The MEC was a guest speaker at the National Press Club in Pretoria on Wednesday 19 February when he spoke on the matter.

“A miracle is needed in this case because I see no other way to bring stability and order to these schools,” said Lesufi.

Lesufi said due to the numbers of deaths of the learners in Gauteng schools, he had consulted with elders about what was needed to be done to decrease these events from occurring.

Since January, there have been 15 deaths of learners and four deaths of teachers in different incidents in the province.

Lesufi said the mental health of the learners affected by the deaths would be prioritised, also saying his fatigue was intensified by the events.

“It has not been an easy transition,” he said.

Lesufi said the department of social development and organisation Teddy Bear Clinic offered their support during this hard time.

He said the department had realised that not every school could afford counselling services for learners and staff.

“Our learners are going through hell and we need someone who can listen to them.

“When female learners are on the way to school, they are forced by boys to give them their phone numbers and when they refuse they are harassed.

“This is why communities are important because they are meant to protect our children,” Lesufi continued.

He revealed that a report on the death of Parktown Boys High learner Enock Mpianzi in a drowning incident while on a school camp would be handed over to the family on Thursday 20 February.

Lesufi said the report would be shared with parents at a meeting scheduled to take place at Wits University.

Enock, a 13-year-old Grade 8 learner, drowned at the Nyati Bush and Riverbreak lodge during an orientation camp.

He was the first of the 15 deaths Lesufi has had to deal with this year.

The clinical director of the Teddy Bear Clinic, Shaheda Omar, said the organisation had not been unpacking the challenges that learners and schools were facing, and instead were focused on the symptoms.

She said in order to protect children, law-enforcement agencies and schools will have to work together.

“A lot of the children faced some difficulties while growing up… and today we are in the information age where sex and violence are eroticised on the internet.

“The range of emotions among these children could be very wide and could have long-term effects,” she said.

Lesufi addressed the state of negligence in schools and said structures would be put in place to ensure teachers knew what to do to keep children safe, especially during trips.

He said they had been working with various organisations to formulate guidelines, and in the meantime, they had discouraged schools from planning trips that involved water-related activities.

“We are bringing a strong element of the basic knowledge to know what to do if a tragedy happens.

“We must not create an impression that teachers must know everything, but there is additional support that we need to provide and refresh.

“I am one person to defend schools to embark on trips because I believe that they are educational and want them to become part of our curriculum,” he said.

Other deaths included a learner who fell from a balcony during an epileptic seizure, a suicide, and a school transport accident.

There has also been a rape incident, where a former student allegedly kidnapped and raped his teacher, as well as an incident in which three teachers died in a car accident.

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