Police arrest grade 8 teen for pointing gun at teacher in Joburg

Panyaza Lesufi
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

A grade 8 learner who threatened his teacher with a gun in class at a high school in Johannesburg has been arrested.

Gauteng’s education department confirmed that the 15-year-old from Eldorado Park Secondary School was arrested on Thursday and charged with pointing a gun and possession of a dangerous weapon. He was released into his parents’ custody and will appear in the Kliptown Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

The incident‚ which happened on Wednesday‚ has been condemned as “unacceptable” by the National Association of School Governing Bodies (NASGB).

It is the latest in a series of disturbing incidents that have played out at the school during the year which have included students filming fist fights and a learner being stabbed with a pair of scissors.

The school governing body immediately suspended the learner after the gun threat and served the parents with a notice of a disciplinary hearing to be held on Thursday evening.

The provincial education department’s Psycho-Social Support team has provided counselling to the threatened teacher and others affected by the incident.

“We wish to reiterate that‚ school-based violence and other related misdemeanours will be expedited‚ and as such‚ we are indebted to the SGB for their swift action. We have adopted a zero-nonsense tolerance approach towards delinquents‚ and will demonstrate no mercy towards lawlessness in and around our schools‚” Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said on Thursday.

The department said in a statement that the weapon pointed at the teacher was a Black Powerline gas gun.

“It’s unacceptable that a learner can threaten a teacher when the relationship between the two should be the same as parent and child‚” said NASGB spokesperson Matakanye Matakanye.

“We call upon all the SGBs to act decisively against learners who attack teachers to send a clear message to anyone who wants to promote this type of behaviour. We also need to send out a strong message to the community because these learners come from communities.”

Matakanye said schools needed adequate security to protect teachers and learners.

The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union said violence at schools generally was concerning. “We are increasingly worried about the safety of teachers at schools because of the violence that the learners subject them to‚” said Gauteng Sadtu secretary Tshidiso Ledimo.

He said the union had been raising questions around the safety of teachers. “This is of major concern to us. It has to do with learner behaviour because of the socio-economic environment.”

It is not the first time that the school has been embroiled in controversy this year.

A brawl between pupils was captured on a video in March‚ when some teachers engaged in a dispute with the school left learners unsupervised. In the video‚ a learner kicked and repeatedly pummelled another on the head‚ which started bleeding. The Citizen reported in February how frustrated learners took to the streets in protest against the absence of teachers at the school. The teachers allegedly had not been in their classrooms after allegations of racism between coloured and black staff members.

In the same month‚ IOL reported that a pupil attacked the deputy principal with a chair‚ table and a brick. The pupil had been reprimanded for wearing earrings.

Former teacher Zithobile Mkhize-Ngidi‚ who did her PhD on violence at schools‚ found that many parents neglected their children due to the pressures of their jobs.

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