The family of a 19-year-old sangoma has expressed shock and disgust after their daughter's picture was circulated on social media and news sites as the pupil who took her life in KwaZulu-Natal after her suspension for wearing traditional attire at school.
On Tuesday, KwaZulu-Natal education department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said 15-year-old Mbalenhle Ngobese, who is also a sangoma, from Nombika High in the iLembe district, had committed suicide after the school suspended her.
After the department intervened, the pupil had been allowed to return to school.
As the news spread on social media, a picture of Bongiwe "Lwandle" Ngobese (no relation) was shared on social media, incorrectly stating that she was the pupil who died.
This caused panic among neighbours and relatives who started calling the family.
Bongiwe's picture was taken in 2019 when she shared her story about how she was allegedly called a demon by educators for wearing traditional beads at school.
She was told to wear clothing, even in summer, to cover the beads up.
Bongiwe’s father, Sthembiso Ngobese, said a neighbour alerted them to the conversation on social media on Wednesday morning.
''Our neighbour called us and asked us if we are okay. We told her that we are fine. She then came to our place and told us that she saw a picture of our daughter on social media and heard that she has died. We were shocked to hear that,’’ said Ngobese.
''This is a sad day for us. She is humiliated. Her clients were calling her. They were shocked to hear that she is dead. Our daughter is still alive. We are just devastated by this.’’
Bongiwe said she is traumatised.
''This came as a shock to me. This is disturbing. I got lots of calls from my patients asking me if I am dead. I was shocked and told them that I am alive,’’ she said.
The family called for people to stop circulating the picture.
Meanwhile, the department of education in KZN sent condolences to the family of the pupil who died, adding that the department would look into circumstances around her death.