Tragedy has struck several schools in Gauteng this past week, with one high school in particularly losing both its principal and a Grade 8 pupil in separate incidents, the provincial education department said on Monday.
Fana Khoele, 54, and Zweli Dube from Sebetsa-O-Tholemoputso High School in Soweto died in the past week in unrelated incidents, department spokesperson Steve Mabona said in a statement.
Khoele collapsed on Monday morning and died at home.
Dube died after being struck by lightning on his way home from school on Friday, a kilometre from the school, Mabona said.
Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi was saddened by the incidents and was expected to visit the school on Tuesday morning, Mabona said.
In other incidents last week, a 13-year-old died after he allegedly committed suicide at home on Thursday.
Mabona said the Grade 8 pupil from Springs Boys High School was living with his grandfather, and the department’s psycho-social unit was currently supporting the school and family with the necessary counselling.
In another incident, a Grade 9 boy from Suncrest High School in Vanderbijlpark was knocked down by a car on Thursday.
The pupil was airlifted to Union Hospital in Alberton where he is receiving medical attention.
Mabona said the department was monitoring the boy’s condition, adding the police were investigating the accident.
In another incident on Monday, a scholar transport driver was shot and injured by an unknown gunman in the presence of pupils he was transporting to Etwatwa Secondary School.
Mabona said the driver was ferrying pupils from Msholozi informal settlement in Benoni when he was attacked.
“The driver had earlier dropped off pupils at other schools and was completing his last stop at Etwatwa Secondary School in Wattville. While seated in the bus, an unknown man approached and fired three times at the bus, with one shot hitting the driver above his right eye.
“The driver was then rushed to a hospital, where he is currently receiving the necessary medical attention,” said Mabona.
The department believed the incident could be linked to simmering tensions between itself and the Benoni Taxi Association as taxi owners were not pleased with the provision of scholar transport in that area.
“We have called on the police to assist in securing our pupils’ 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,” said Mabona.
Lesufi has appealed for peace in the implementation of the transportation initiative.
“We introduced the 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.
“This is to appeal to all stakeholders to allow the scholar transport to run smoothly. It is important to emphasise that acts of violence will not yield any positive results, hence, it will only lead to unnecessary injuries, trauma and fatalities, which is unfortunate,” Lesufi said.
The department has dispatched its psycho-social team to debrief pupils at Etwatwa Secondary School.