The 17-year-old KwaZulu-Natal boy who was arrested for allegedly taking a loaded gun to school says he did so to protect himself.
His case has been postponed to March 17 for further investigation after he was released into the custody of his parents on Wednesday.
Police spokesperson Jabulani Mdletshe said the suspect, who cannot be named because he is a minor, told police that he had picked up the gun on the road and kept it to protect himself from his enemies at school.
"He allegedly kept the gun inside an old pipe at school since the day he allegedly picked it up on the road," said Mdletshe.
It is alleged that there are two rival groups at the school, who are fighting over a girl student.
The suspect had allegedly pointed the gun at a group of boys on the day he was arrested.
Acting on a tip-off, police went to Dlemudlemu High School in KwaMbonambi near Mtubatuba on Monday and recovered a Z26 Model handgun.
Mdletshe said the boy had initially lied to the police. He said the gun belonged to his family but he could not say why he had brought it to school.
"When told about his arrest, the boy's family denied any knowledge of the gun and said they did not own any firearms," he said.
The boy appeared in the Mtubatuba magistrate's court on Wednesday on charges of being in possession of a firearm.
The incident happened barely a week after a Grade 8 pupil at Zamazulu High School in Pietermaritzburg was shot dead in class. Sphamandla Dlamini, 15, was shot by another 15-year-old boy after wrestling for a firearm. The gun allegedly belonged to Dlamini's father.
Less than three weeks ago, Thulasizwe Mqadi, 20, of Swelihle High School in Umlazi, Durban, was stabbed by a 15-year-old pupil at school on Wednesday. The pupils were allegedly arguing when Mqadi was stabbed.
Meanwhile, the South African Democratic Teachers Union has applauded the whistle-blowers who alerted the police before anyone was hurt.
The union's spokesperson, Sipho "KK" Nkosi, appealed to both teachers and pupils to expose anyone endangering the lives of others by bringing weapons to school.