Home South African Learner, 13, commits suicide after alleged bullying by teacher

Learner, 13, commits suicide after alleged bullying by teacher

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Chaos broke out at a primary school after a group of parents stormed the school to protest against a teacher accused of bullying a learner, who committed suicide on Friday.

The police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to try and disperse angry community members at the school. Picture: Supplied

CHAOS broke out at Phutha Primary School in Klipgat near Mabopane on Monday after a group of parents stormed the school to protest against a teacher accused of bullying a learner, who committed suicide on Friday.

The teacher allegedly mocked the Grade 7 learner, Regomoditswe Baloyi, 13, by repeatedly telling him in the classroom that he was a fool and that he would suffer until his death because of his poverty-stricken background.

On Friday, the learner told his sister that he would kill himself because of the constant bullying at the hands of a teacher. He committed suicide hours later and his body was discovered by his mother at home.

On Monday, learning activities were disrupted as angry community members, joined by the learner’s parents, demanded that the implicated teacher be removed from the school.

The police were called in to quell tensions and the teacher had to be escorted from the school to protect her from the hostile protesters.

Community members tried to prevent police from leaving the premises by throwing stones at the SAPS vehicles.

The police reacted by firing rubber bullets and using stun grenades to disperse protesters.

Angry community members run for cover as police fire rubber bullets. Picture: Supplied

Regomoditswe’s father Michael Mafatshe, said he was deeply saddened by the untimely death of his son.

“It is very difficult for me to accept. This is heartbreaking. He (Regomoditswe) hasn’t said anything to me about harassment by one of his teachers. I only got it from his fellow learners after he died. One of the learners said that his teacher repeatedly remarked in front of other learners in a classroom that my child will suffer until his death and that he was a fool,” Mafatshe said.

He added that he wished he had known about the bullying earlier, so as to act against the scourge.

“I would have gone to school to find out what is actually the problem. He told his sister that he is going to kill himself on Friday and hours later he committed suicide.”

Michael Mafatshe, the father of 13-year-old Regomoditswe Baloyi who committed suicide. Picture: Supplied

The deceased’s mother was too distraught to speak about the incident.

Mafatshe said: “The boy’s mother is too weak to speak because of grief. If I don’t take her to a doctor I will end up losing her as well.”

One of the parents protesting at the school, who didn’t want to be identified, said: “As a parent of one of the learners I feel bad about what happened to a learner who committed suicide.

“Every day when learners come back from school they always complain that they are emotionally harassed by the teachers. In this instance, one of the teachers kept mocking a learner that he was poor and likened him to a rat.”

Other parents believed that their children wouldn’t cope with learning at the school with a teacher known to be a bully.

“How will a child concentrate in a classroom after being told that he was a fool? As parents we took this step because we don’t want the teacher again in this school. We want to know how other children will cope in this environment,” one of them said.

North West Department of Education spokesperson Elias Malindi had yet to respond to a request for comment at the time of going to publication.

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