An emotional Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says he has run out of words to comfort bereaved schools and families.
The latest death of Grade 10 pupil Kelebogile Reuben Molopyane brings the total reported pupil deaths in the province to twelve since the start of the academic year last month.
What’s more, four teachers have died in the province since the new school year got under way.
Lesufi addressed the media near Ferndale High School in Randburg, Johannesburg, where Molopyane fell from the third floor following an epileptic seizure on Tuesday.
The 16-year-old pupil later died in hospital surrounded by his parents.
Lesufi said the school sent him a detailed report of what led to Molopyane’s death.
The tragedy happened just after 09:30 as pupils moved between classes.
He said the school principal told him that Molopyane still looked sick after returning to school on Tuesday after being off ill for a while.
“He was on the second row with other pupils to go to another classroom. While the teacher was concentrating on the third row, the teacher heard screams from pupils. The principal was also around. They knew that those screams were not ordinary screams from pupils playing.
“But they were unique and unfortunately when they arrived at the scene, the pupil had fallen to the ground. They called paramedics and the family and the pupil were taken to hospital, where he unfortunately left us,” Lesufi said.
Lesufi was disheartened that instead of handing out academic awards to top-performing schools and pupils, he was conveying condolences and comforting families and schools.
“Here am I again, not visiting the school to check the academic progress, to determine if teachers are teaching and if pupils are doing well or not. I am here to prepare the school to accept death and prepare pupils to accept death too,” he said.
“And to also come and pick up the soul that was supposed to be a professional person in life, but now we have to prepare that soul to go to a graveside.”
Lesufi called for an end to the bad omen at schools.
“We can’t lose pupils the way we are losing them. We can’t even explain how to accept death because since the beginning of this academic year, literally every week we have been collecting souls and visiting families and comforting schools,” he said.