A matric pupil preparing for exams at a study camp was found dead at Ben Hlongwane Secondary School in Polokwane on Sunday morning.
20-year-old Phillimon Mkomo was found stabbed to death behind one of the buildings at the school.
Police said Mkomo was part of a group of pupils doing “camping classes” ahead of exams.
They were told he “sneaked out” on Saturday, and despite guardians at the school looking for him, he could not be found.
His body was found early the next morning.
Limpopo education department spokesperson Mike Maringa told SAfm‘s Elvis Presslin on Monday the department was still investigating “circumstances of how he left the school premises.”
Maringa said the area in Mokopane where the school is located is busy, with many taverns and “distractions”, prompting institutions to keep their pupils on site for them to concentrate.
He said Mkomo sneaked out of the study session to frequent a nearby “drinking spot”. It is suspected that a fight broke out between Mkomo and “some guys”.
He was making his way back to the school when he collapsed and died, Maringa said.
Mkomo’s mother Maria told SABC News she never expected her son to return dead from the “school camp”.
She said she had hoped Mkomo would complete his matric and “change my situation here at home”.
A manhunt has been launched for the suspect, or suspects, involved in the murder.
“The Provincial Commissioner of Police in Limpopo Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe has strongly condemned this incident, and appealed to community members with information to come forward and assist the police in tracking down the killers” police spokesperson Colonel Malesela Ledwaba said in a statement.
Second ‘study camp’ death
Mkomo’s death came three days after another pupil also died while at a study camp.
Gift Mitchel from Leagathoko Secondary School outside Burgersfort drowned in the Olifants River while swimming with six other classmates.
Maringa said the pupils were meant to be in class for extra lessons.
When roll call was taken, it was discovered Gift was not present but lessons continued until other pupils who witnessed Gift drowning told teachers.
Police were called and searched for days until Gift’s body was found on Saturday afternoon, 5km from where he was last seen.
“It is disturbing that in just one week we lose two grade 12 learners under similar circumstances,” Limpopo education MEC Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya said in a statement.
“The idea of affording learners extra lessons at the school premises was meant to keep them focused on their school work in an endeavour to improve the matric result.
“It is a great loss to the family and to us as the department, we have invested so much on these learners and we hope this will be the last incident.”
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Compiled by Nica Richards.