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Homophobic abuse by deputy principal may have led to pupil’s death – report

Findings released at the school in Thokoza, Springs on Thursday

Noxolo Sibiya Journalist
A report finds that 12-year-old Sibusiso Mbatha's death followed homophobic remarks made by a teacher
A report finds that 12-year-old Sibusiso Mbatha's death followed homophobic remarks made by a teacher
Image: 123RF

A report looking into the circumstances surrounding the death of 12-year-old Sibusiso Mbatha has confirmed that the boy’s death was subsequent to homophobic remarks made by a teacher at the Khehlekile Primary School.

The report that was released at the school in Thokoza, Springs on Thursday morning detailed how the school’s deputy principal commented on Mbatha’s sexuality while reprimanding him.

Sharing the findings of the report Gauteng education MEC Matome Chiloane said allegations were that on October 23, Mbatha was involved in a physical altercation with a fellow pupil. Mbatha was then reprimanded by the deputy principal allegedly telling him to: “Leave your gayism outside the classroom.”

The family of 12-year-old Sibusiso Mbatha who took his own life.
The family of 12-year-old Sibusiso Mbatha who took his own life.
Image: Supplied

On the same day, Mbatha was found hanging from the bathroom ceiling in his home.

Chiloane said the investigation revealed substantial evidence collected by BR Rangata Attorney’s, supporting allegations of emotional and homophobic abuse by the deputy principal towards the pupil contributing to his distress.

“The investigation also noted that the school’s head of department and Mbatha’s class teacher might have mishandled the matter by disregarding proper reporting procedures that could have prevented the incident.

“Additionally, both teachers and the principal were found to have failed in protocol adherence, with the deputy principal’s lack of communication, neglect of reporting procedures and insensitivity towards the issue. The confirmed allegations suggested that the learner’s public reprimand due to their sexual orientation significantly contributed to their distress, highlighting a lack of due process and insensitivity across multiple parties at the school.”

Chiloane said it was determined that the principal might have failed in fulfilling his responsibilities by mishandling the issue, attempting to shield the deputy and relying solely on written statements from teachers and the dead of department .

“Moreover, allegedly neglected to inform the School Governing Body (SGB) about the situation and prioritised other community stakeholders over them. The SGB was deemed to have no role in this matter. The severe trauma experienced by Mbatha’s family, friends and classmates was acknowledged.”

The report recommended that the deputy principal be placed on precautionary suspension while the other teachers, including the principal, undergo disciplinary hearings.


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