The mother of the Eastwood Secondary School boy who was stabbed to death outside the school in Pietermaritzburg has hailed him as a hero, saying he tried to save a female student from harm.
Natalie Fynn, 56, spoke to journalists at her home while a heated community meeting was underway at the community hall not far away.
Fynn said her 18-year-old son Hershel's only crime was defending a female student and daring to question why she was being attacked during an end of matric tradition called "bombing".
"Bombing" is a colloquial term that refers to the end of the matric year tradition where pupils vandalise school property, signaling the end of their school career.
It is alleged that the female pupil was stabbed in the buttocks on Monday with a pair of scissors. After Hershel asked his fellow pupils why they had done this he was ambushed and attacked on Tuesday.
"When the girl got stabbed, he asked why they were doing that. Because he asked this, he was stabbed. He was just walking home and he was stabbed."
Fynn said children had run to her home to tell her that her son had been injured.
"I still have to take in what happened. I still cannot believe it. He was very kind and polite and respectful to everyone. I still feel like he'll just come home."
She said her son was central to her life and had promised her a better future for them both.
"I felt so sad to lose my son. He told me he would do everything for me when he finished his matric. He just got his learner's licence and he said 'no mummy, I will make everything right for you'."
She said his last words were what he always said to her before he left home.
"He said bye mommy, I love you."
School Governing Body chairperson Roy Ram said Hershel had been a bright young man.
"He had a great future, a decent boy, not aggressive, very kind. This bombing of 2019 will be a lesson to matrics of 2020, because it took somebody's life."
He said this was not the first incident of this nature.
"In 2017 we had an issue with 40 learners locked up. We are saying to students, community and parents, this must stop."
Ram added that the teen had died a hero.
"He died a hero, because he was defending a young girl by asking, 'why did you do this?"
Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu was upfront with the community, calling on them to protect schools and expose criminals.
"We must not allow our schools to become like this. It will take the collective effort of each parent and each community member."
He said the bombing game had to be stopped.
"We must vow that this is the last time. It is not a game. It is an act of senselessness. You cannot find joy in harassing other pupils."
Police are investigating the matter.