Limpopo Education MEC Polly Boshielo has expressed concern at the increasing number of reported bullying incidents in schools involving learners.
This comes after a viral video of a Grade 10 learner who was attacked in full view of her peers at Mbilwi Secondary School made rounds on social media.
“In the video, other learners can be heard in the background cheering the perpetrator, who is also a Grade 10 female learner,” the department explained.
According to the statement released by the provincial department, the incident took place on Monday, 12 April 2021.
The bullied learner, who is believed to be 15-years-old, has since passed away after she reportedly took her own life after the incident.
However, the department said it was still awaiting a formal report on the cause from the relevant authorities.
Meanwhile, the department said it was disturbed by another recording of a physical altercation involving Grade 12 female learners from Nthuba High School.
The department has since requested details from the school principal and due disciplinary processes will be undertaken immediately.
“It is quite disturbing to witness this level of violent behaviour among young people. We strongly condemn such conduct that has turned our schools into horrendous havens of those who have no regards for their peers.
“Bullying is wrong and will never be tolerated in our schools,” said the MEC.
The MEC and her department have since sent their condolences to the family and friends of the deceased learner and committed to ensuring that all those involved face the consequences of their actions.
“It is important that we also capacitate our schools to strengthen enforcement of their code of conduct, especially on such incidents. Education is a societal matter, therefore putting the responsibility on all of us to ensure a safe learning and teaching environment,” said MEC Boshielo.
The department has appointed Learner Support Agents who are based in the 10 education districts across the province to offer emotional support to vulnerable learners.
This is done, according to the department, in conjunction with programmes offered by the School Safety, Learner Psychological Services and Lifeskills units.
Meanwhile, processes are underway to intensify their interventions in high burden areas, based on reports received from circuit offices.
The provincial Social Development Department has dispatched a team of social workers to Mbilwi High School and to the family of a child who apparently committed suicide.
Social Development MEC Nkakareng Rakgoale has condemned the incident.
She said bullying is a social ill that needs to be confronted head-on.
“We are very disappointed to learn that there was this bullying incident that ended in tragedy. We want to see these young boys and girls supporting each other at school because they are there to learn,” she added.
She has since urged the community members not to share violent video material on social media and further expose minors to violence and exploitation.
“It is advisable to rather report such incidents to the school, police or social workers for a speedy intervention,” said MEC Rakgoale.