Riots force schools to shut doors

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

The Department of Education in KwaZulu-Natal has expressed its anger and disappointment in the wake of violence at some of its schools in the past few weeks.

Schools were closed after pupils assaulted classmates and teachers, and damaged school property.

Pupils demanding free education shot a 21-year-old pupil at Dumanikahle High School, in Melmoth in northern KwaZulu-Natal, during a protest.

The pupils went on the rampage on Wednesday morning, demanding that their school fees be refunded.

Teachers called in the police to restore order. But the police were stoned by the pupils as soon as they arrived.

Police spokesman Jay Naicker said a shot was fired by one of a group of pupils that hit a child in the thigh.

Naicker said: "The suspect is known. He fled the scene during the pandemonium after the shooting.

"When the suspect is found he will have to face a charge of attempted murder," he said.

Gcinimfundo Secondary School, in Ndwedwe in northern KwaZulu-Natal, re-opened recently.

Its pupils had assaulted the acting principal because, they said, he had suspended a pregnant pupil.

The girl's teacher was said to have made her pregnant and has been suspended by the Department of Education.

The pupils stormed teachers' cottages on the school premises and burnt their furniture.

A spokesman for the department, Christi Naude, condemned the pupils' actions.

"There are ways of dealing with grievances other than turning to violence," she said.

"The department is investigating these incidences and those responsible will be dealt with harshly."