Parents and the community of Eastwood in Pietermaritzburg are urging the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education to deploy more security at Eastwood Secondary School. The call comes after grade 11 learner Hershel Fynn was stabbed to death outside the school gate on Tuesday.
According to learners, the 18-year-old boy was killed after he confronted another learner over the stabbing of a girl on Monday with a pair of scissors.
The school was shut down on Wednesday by the department after the incident. On Wednesday, MEC for Education Kwazi Mshengu met the community and promised parents that security would be tightened at the school.
Learners told GroundUp that the attack was sparked by a "bombing ritual". The ritual happens before matric learners write exams. Learners fill condoms with water, paint, hair remover and even human waste to pelt teachers and other learners.
One learner, Kaylum Willard, a friend of the deceased, said, "The bombing game has been in school for long ... from years ago. This year on Monday the bombing was so bad that the one boy stabbed a girl ... with a pair of scissors, twice to the stomach." He said she is still in hospital.
"On Tuesday a fight broke out in school with the coloureds and black learners. Each year in Eastwood secondary the coloureds and Zulus fight in school. We are used to this," said Willard.
He described the deceased as "a good person and he was never part of the game [bombing] ... I will always remember him".
Another girl learner said, "Fights have become normal. The school is not a safe place anymore. We are exposed to bullying."
An angry parent, Mbali Mchunu, said: "What is the use of employing security guards who don't intervene when learners are attacked or fighting? Why are they there if they fail to do their job?"
Another parent, Judy Maharaj, said, "Every year around this time the community runs [around] like headless chickens to assist the school due to bombing. I'm urging the MEC and the department to put their heads together in a way for us to combat this game."
Mshengu said he would speak to the MEC for Community Safety about police visibility in Eastwood. "Those learners who were supposed to write their first exam were taken to another school to write their exams. Twenty-six learners who were writing their Computer Application Technology [paper] wrote their exam in another school."
GroundUp has been unable to get police comment.