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Pupil stabbed to death at Gauteng school had suffered history of bullying, says family

  • The family of a pupil stabbed to death believes his life could have been spared had teachers and Geluksdal residents intervened.
  • The family claimed teachers or residents should have rushed their child to a clinic or local hospital.
  • Shawn Mphela was certified dead outside his school after he was stabbed on Thursday.

The family of a Grade 10 pupil stabbed to death outside Geluksdal Secondary School on Thursday believe his death could have been prevented.

The family said they had complained about how Shawn Mphela, 18, was bullied by pupils at the school.

According to his aunt, Lerato Mohau, the family had complained about how Mphela suffered racial and physical abuse at the school.

Mphela, who had been involved in an altercation during the day, was stabbed to death on his way home from school.

“I was at home at around 17:00 when I was called [and told] that my child was injured. I summoned other relatives. We drove to the school. We saw a group of people gathering outside the gate. He was there, lying lifeless. He was bleeding,” Mohau said.

“I lifted him and saw a wound below his heart. That is where he was stabbed. He was stabbed once, not multiple times as many have claimed,” Mohau said. 

Mphela’s fellow pupils told them he was stabbed by a group of boys who were not pupils at the school.

“Those children waited for an ambulance for more than two hours before it arrived. They claimed he died before the ambulance had arrived. Had people reacted on time, he would have been alive.

“We feel that the community of Geluksdal didn’t care. Where were the residents [who live] near the school? They didn’t bother to intervene,” Mohau said.

READ | Grade 10 Brakpan pupil stabbed to death after pepper spray brawl

“This is sad and heartbreaking. We expected him to return from school, not go to a morgue. It was painful receiving a call to rush to the school. What were people doing while they were waiting for an ambulance?

“These fights have been happening since last year. He was always assaulted at school.”

According to Mohau, the school was aware that Mphela was being bullied. She said:

Something could have been done a while back to prevent his death. Our child had always been ill-treated by his peers. He was vocal. He loved dancing. He was polite and protective. He was a very disciplined child. We have never received a complaint that he has done wrong. He loved his books and family.

She continued: “He was a reliable child. He was killed for nothing, and we want answers.”

She added that they had received complaints of racial tension at the school, and Mphela spoke out against racism.


Gauteng Education MEC Matome Chiloane said racism at the school would not be tolerated. 

“We are taken aback by his death. I am concerned about racial tensions in the school. I am disappointed because some racial tensions come from outside the school,” Chiloane said.

“Some community structures and some parents lead them. Pupils have also complained about some teachers. We will investigate and act. Racism is a crime. We will demonstrate that it will never be tolerated in our schools. We will send a message to those who want to do the same.”

The MEC added that the school would be secured.

“We are going to search for weapons brought to the school. We will monitor that teaching continues without disruptions. One life lost is [one] too many. I don’t want to lose another life. This incident should not have happened.

“We share the grieving family’s pain. We are going to do something about it. Communities should be role models to our pupils. Gangsterism and substance abuse happening outside the school finds [itself] on our premises. We need the community on board to fight those wrongdoings.”

READ | ‘Racism must end, we want equality’, say parents of pupils, but Laerskool Danie Malan denies claims

Meanwhile, Mphela’s murder resulted in pupils taking the law into their own hands.

They attacked the home they claimed belonged to one of the pupil’s killers.

The property was damaged before police rescued and arrested the man.

Police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the angry pupils. 

Three suspects are expected to appear in court on a charge of murder.

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