Xhosa class drives boy to suicide

KILLED HIMSELF: Siphelele Tshaya. © Unknown.
KILLED HIMSELF: Siphelele Tshaya. © Unknown.

Pertunia Ratsatsi

Pertunia Ratsatsi

A 15-year-old pupil shot and killed himself after he was allegedly thrown out of class by his teacher in Tembisa, Ekurhuleni.

Siphelele Tshaya, a Grade 8 pupil at Masiqhakaze Secondary School, took his father's firearm from its safe and shot himself in the head last Thursday.

It all started on Tuesday morning when Siphelele and some classmates reported for school 45 minutes late. A teacher sent them home in accordance with the school's practice.

"The boy is in my Xhosa class but he never attended the class after I told him to leave last Tuesday. That is why I wanted to see his parents," said Siphelele's teacher.

The teacher said she wrote a letter to the boy's parents informing them that he was skipping classes and that she wanted to talk to them.

According to the school's policy teachers are requested to invite parents of habitual latecomers to the school to try find a solution to the problem.

The boy's father, Herman Tshaya, said: "When I confronted him about the letter, he told me he was not attending the classes because the teacher had chased him away.

"I was at work on Thursday when I received a call from my wife that my son had killed himself."

Siphelele had used bed sheets to cover the firearm's muzzle in an effort to reduce the gunshot sound so that his mother should not hear.

"I still cannot believe that my son was capable of such a drastic thing," said Tshaya.

One of Siphelele's friends Sisanda Bikani, 15, described him as a good and quiet person.

"He always attended other classes but stayed away from the Xhosa class because he did not like the subject," said Bikani.

Ekurhuleni police spokesman Manyaza Ralidzivha said an inquest docket has been opened.

"Parents must keep their firearms away from children."