The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education has expressed grave concern and sadness in response to the suicide of a Grade 10 Limpopo learner, after a video of her being bullied by fellow pupils went viral.
Committee Chairperson Ms Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba said she was outraged by the bullying video, especially since school South African schools should have an anti-bullying policies. All learners should be made aware of these policies and the consequences for not adhering to them. "Policies should be enforced. If there are still schools operating without a code of conduct or an anti-bullying policy, they should urgently address this matter."
In the video, the learner, Lufuno Mavhunga, from Mbilwi Secondary School in the Vhembe East Education District, is confronted by two other girls. One of them signals to the other to move whilst she starts slapping the alleged victim several times. Ms Mavhunga grabs her attacker in an attempt to block the blows from the assault. Other learners can be heard in the background cheering the alleged perpetrator, who allegedly is also in Grade 10. Photos of the assaulted were also shared on social media.
The Limpopo Education Department later confirmed the incident and said the victim has since passed away. The 15-year old attacker has been arrested and charged with assault.
Ms Mbinqo said: "It has become clear that the victim took an overdose of pills as she was humiliated by the incident and the videos. There is no place for bullying in South African society, especially in our schools, which are supposed to be places of safety for all involved, specifically our learners. On behalf of the committee, I would like to send condolences to the family and friends of the learner.
"I would further urge education authorities across the country to ensure that those involved in bullying are made to face the consequences of their actions and to stamp it out. Education is a societal issue, therefore the responsibility for the safety of learners does not just lie with the education authorities, but with everyone. I want to urge parents and caregivers to also take up this responsibility to make learners aware of bullying and its devastating consequences."