Three pupils from Hoërskool Riebeeckrand in Randfontein have reportedly taken their own lives just weeks apart.
The school’s principal, Annelize van den Berg, said the community was “traumatised”, and that the incidents were isolated, reports Randfontein Herald.
Grade 8 pupil Kearabetswe Ledima, Grade 11 pupil Schalk Groenewald, and Leandri Herbst, who was in Grade 9, died by alleged suicide this month.
Bullying not the cause
“The school wants to make it clear that there is a strict anti-bullying policy in place, and that no bullying at the school is tolerated. There is also a well functioning disciplinary system in place, with the deputy principal and the school’s advocate at the helm.
“Pupils are informed about how to identify bullies and what steps to take to report incidents. Hoërskool Riebeeckrand wants to provide a safe haven for our pupils and personnel.”
She said after a thorough internal investigation, however, none of the pupils’ deaths appeared to be as a result of bullying.
“We are still busy with investigations… One pupil’s parent already stated on social media that bullying was not a factor.”
Van den Berg said the school has a councillor that supports pupils with emotional matters, and is available for any child, at any time.
“Unfortunately, there are many pupils who do not talk about their emotional pain and hardship, and it is impossible to identify such a pupil, and to support them.”
Members of the community have reportedly made “irresponsible and harmful assumptions” without learning the facts, Van den Berg said.
“These assumptions, lies and comments cause more trauma for the parents and the school community, and ruins the name of a good, functioning school, with incalculable consequences.”
Comment from the Gauteng education department had not been received by the time of publication.
Translated from Afrikaans by Nica Richards.