21 November 2012

South Africa: MECs to Discuss Learners' Access to Firearms

Pretoria — Gauteng MEC for Education Barbara Creecy is expected to meet with Provincial Community Safety MEC, Faith Mazibuko to talk about ways of limiting learner access to police firearms.

This follows a shooting at Phineas Xulu Secondary School in Vosloorus on Tuesday, where a learner brought his metro police mother's service pistol to school and allegedly fatally wounded a pupil he accused of bullying him.

Gauteng Education spokesperson, Charles Phahlane said the Grade 11 learner was alleged to have been bullied repeatedly by a Grade 10 learner and two other boys who on Monday afternoon allegedly took his cap and cellphone.

"It is alleged that when the three boys confronted him in class this morning [Tuesday], he shot dead the Grade 10 learner. The learner was arrested after he went home to return the pistol," Phahlane said.

He said the department called the police, psycho-social counsellors as well as support from the faith-based community.

Matric learners were allowed to finish their tourism examination, while learners from other grades were sent home.

"Counsellors will be present at the school on Wednesday and we will assess the status of the internal examinations. The matric exams, however, will be allowed to continue," said Phahlane.

A study conducted by Unisa's Bureau of Market Research, through its Youth Research Unit, shows that nearly 35% of learners in Gauteng schools have been bullied in the past two years, with 42% of this group being Grade 8 learners and a third having experienced bullying throughout their secondary school lives.

The research, which spans from 2011-2012, was conducted on 3 371 learners in Grades 8 - 12 in 24 schools in Gauteng schools. It showed that 1 158 learners have been bullied in the past two years.

In prioritising the issue of bullying, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, in the State of the Province Address in 2011, announced that she had assigned 1 000 community volunteers to monitor, amongst others, incidents of bullying in schools.

The provincial Education Department has also introduced a school safety policy that provides psycho-social support in the event of bullying and violence amongst learners.

Lay counsellors have been appointed to provide support to schools. Some counsellors hold violence prevention classes or workshops for learners, while some schools provide special programmes on preventing violence and gang activity for high-risk learners.

Under the policy, patrollers are also provided for schools which can't afford to hire private security.

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