The Gauteng Department of Education has announced that it will appoint an independent law firm, to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Sibusiso Mbatha (12).
It is reported that Mbatha took his own life on Monday due to alleged bullying by his teacher at Khehlekile Primary School in Thokoza.
Mbatha was found hanging in his home’s bathroom.
His family says the 12-year-old did express unhappiness regarding the alleged homophobic comments coming from that particular teacher.
The family says Mbatha, who was openly gay, would come back home and tell them about the homophobic slurs made against him.
Education Gauteng MEC, Matome Chiloane, says the independent investigation will run simultaneously with the department’s probe.
“There’s an independent aspect of it, but it does not stop our internal investigation that we are also doing, to have comparative reporting of what could have happened.”
Chiloane says the prevalence of suicide cases in schools is worrisome and the department is seeking a comprehensive solution to tackle the atrocity that keeps claiming the lives of young people.
“I’ve got more interest in the aspect of how do we prevent such an incident from happening again. How do we ensure that we get our children to speak, how do we ensure that we get educators who find themselves dealing with learners who have different views to deal with learners.”
At least two suicide deaths were recorded in Gauteng schools in the month of August.
Chiloane says such incidents serve as a grim reminder that the emotional well-being of learners is a shared responsibility that requires immediate attention from all role players.
Written by: Lindiwe Mpanza