KZN pupil takes her own life after being suspended from school for traditional attire

The Department of Education said the pupil returned to school after it intervened.

A 15-year-old pupil from KwaZulu-Natal committed suicide after she was reportedly suspended from her school for wearing her sangoma attire.

She had attended Nombika High School in the Ilembe district, KwaZulu-Natal.

The girl made news when she revealed that she had not been going to school since March because the principal had suspended her for wearing ibhayi (sangoma attire that covers the shoulders), which she was reportedly wearing during her traditional rituals.

The Department of Education said the pupil returned to school after it intervened.

“The department would like to send its condolences to her family and those close to her. According to the Circuit Management Centre (CMC), the learner came to school to write her June examination,” read the statement.

The Ilembe District Director has sent a team to her family to determine the reasons that led to her suicide.

The suspension

In an interview with 1KZN news on 13 June 2022, Ngobese said she had missed classes and exams after she was suspended.

“The principal suspended me because I am a sangoma and because I wear ibhayi and he told me that my attire was not part of the school uniform. He suggested I hide it under my uniform.

“So I explained to him that if I put it under my uniform or far from me, I would get sick but he did not agree with what I was telling him,” said Mbalenhle Ngobese.

She said she last went to school on 14 March.

Her mother said she was concerned about her daughter’s future as she was being denied the right to education because of her ancestral calling.

“I am hurt because I leave my 15-year-old daughter at home sitting in the sun instead of going to school, I want her to be an educated sangoma. All I want is for her to go back to school even if she is behind in classes,” she said.

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