Independent law firm to investigate pupil's suicide after alleged bullying incident
Gauteng MEC for education Matome Chiloane will appoint an independent law firm to assist the department with its investigation into the suicide of a pupil after an alleged bullying incident at school.
Khehlekile Primary School grade 6 pupil Sibusiso Mbatha on Monday hanged himself in the family bathroom. He was apparently distraught over a bullying incident allegedly instigated by a teacher.
According to the family, the teacher allegedly discriminated against the boy because of his sexual orientation. He allegedly told Mbatha, who was involved in a physical altercation with another pupil, to leave his “gayism” outside the school gate.
“This kind of derogatory and discriminatory language is unacceptable and should never be tolerated within the walls of an educational institution,” said family spokesperson Nozipho Nkosi.
Chiloane visited the family on Thursday to offer his condolences and support.
“We will be appointing an independent law firm to give us a report as to what had transpired in this situation.
“At the centre of the report is obviously to investigate those who may have done wrong and those who should be held accountable but lastly, more importantly, is the recommendation that will assist the department to ensure that such incidents never happen again in our schools.
“The family is saying that the teacher came and is confessing that he did say these particular words,” he said, adding this would be investigated.
“Those are words that obviously should not have been said. You don't say that because those are discriminatory words. That goes against the values and principles that are outlined, not only in our constitution but also within the school code of conduct.”
He said he would give the law firm a timeframe to report back on its findings.
He assured the family they would also get to see the report.
To help with children's mental health issues in the wake of several recent suicides, Matome said the department had ramped up its psychosocial unit and partnered with NGOs. This included establishing boxes where pupils could insert the name of the person bullying them.
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