Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, in association with Paul Colditz, the CEO of Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS) and Dr Shaheda Omar, Clinical Director of the Teddy Bear Clinic, briefed members of the media, on how they are going to put an end to pupils and teachers deaths in Gauteng schools.
The briefing hosted by the National Press Club today happened at the Court Classique Suite Hotel in Arcadia, Pretoria.
With up to 16 confirmed pupil deaths and four teachers across Gauteng Schools since the beginning of the academic year, MEC Lesufi said the deaths have affected him emotionally as a leader and has traumatized families of the victims.
He also expressed his sadness on the latest two deaths of Parktown Boy’s Pupil, Enock Mpiyanzi, who was reported to have drowned during an orientation in North West earlier this year and Kelebogile Molopyane who fell from the school’s balcony and died.
‘‘You cannot provide answers, that is why when I was told by the department that investigations take about two to three months, I told the officials that it will take three weeks and that is why today I am glad that I have a report for Enock’s family.
“We need to do this so that there can be closure for the families,” he said.
The MEC said on Sunday he attended Kelebogile’s funeral in Tshwane and was touched by how the community loved the learner who passed on.
“My question is if the school was aware that the boy had seizures, why house him on the third floor? This is the question that the principal or I have to answer.
“The deaths have touched me emotionally and for the first time, I just have to put in my leave form to go and recharge my batteries, I am really exhausted,” he said.
Mr Colditz said the media has an important role in assisting school governing bodies to prevent these incidents and to support learners, parents and teachers.
“This is traumatic experiences, media can also assist in alerting the community and getting parents mobilized to try and prevent unacceptable incidents and unacceptable behaviours,” he said.
Dr Omar said the incidents also affect the learners who witness them emotionally.
“We need to realize that we are a community and a country that has been faced by many challenges.
“Most children come from different backgrounds some affected by a culture of the neighbourhood and domestic violence.
“They are bombarded with social media posts with all sorts of messages where sexuality and violence are romanticised.
He said the learners who witnessed the recent deaths will be scared because they witnessed the death of a fellow learner which will trigger feelings of loss and survival guilt because they were with the victims,” Dr Omar Said.