With Limpopo teenager Lufuno Mavhunga having been recently laid to rest, communications and digital technologies deputy minister Pinky Kekana has warned of an increase in incidences of cyberbullying in South Africa and said children are becoming immune to violence.
Mavhunga’s bullying incident – now subject to a court inquiry – went viral before she took her own life.
A Limpopo pupil was arrested and had her case postponed after being recorded allegedly assaulting a fellow pupil outside Mbilwi Secondary School.
The minor had her assault case heard in camera, with only her parents, a legal representative and the prosecutor present.
The impact led to the alleged victim, Mavhunga, overdosing on pills and dying in hospital.
The accused minor has remained in custody at a care facility. According to the police: “The victim reportedly went home in the afternoon and on arrival, she allegedly locked herself in the room and consumed an overdose of tablets.
“She was apparently found by her mother, lying unconscious, and was taken to Siloam hospital, where she was certified dead on arrival.”
Referring to a 2015 study on cyberbullying, Kekana said: “Across all the age groups from 10 to 15 year olds – from city to rural areas – the outcome of the study was that our children are becoming immune to violence.
“The study has shown that 100% had watched a film or played a game that had some violence in it.
“In terms of statistics, SA has … a good understanding of cyberbullying – text messages, internet forums, chat rooms and social media.
“One bully takes advantage of the anonymity of the internet and the possibility to the quick spread of rumours – photos or misinformation to large groups of people.
“Cyberbullying is still ruling and the long-term effect is that it affects the well-being of the victim – not just for that time but for their entire life.
“At least one in four kids have been bullied more than once, according to the study. About 43% of kids have fallen prey to cyberbullying.
“Seventy percent of cyberbullying is happening over Facebook – which in the last quarter of 2020 was removed due to hate speech. Hate speech was based on race and ethnicity.”