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Bullied into suicide
MCKEED KOTLOLO | 21 February, 2012 00:33


Bullying on the rise

David “MoDav” Hlongwane became South Africa’s latest victim of school bullies when the Grade 10 pupil hanged himself rather than return to school and face his tormentors again.

This is the story of a 16-year-old mercilessly punched by four classmates at Lethabong Secondary School, in Soshanguve, north of Pretoria.

A day after being bullied – which experts say is increasing alarmingly – he hanged himself at home.

Tuesday, February 14

On StValentine’s Day, David is bullied by four other Grade10 boys aged between 18 and 20. They pick on him and beat him up.

During the lunch break, the youngsters approach David and ask if his nickname is “Killer”.

When he says “No”, they attack him, grabbing him by his clothes.

He manages to escape, bleeding, to the staff common room.

The school principal, MZ Serwadi, gives David and his attackers letters to take home to their parents, asking that the parents visit the school the following day.

The pupils return to their classroom but, after school, one of the boys – who has previously been suspended for slapping a teacher – attacks David again.

David again manages to escape.

When he gets home, he does not tell his mother, Sheila Hlongwane, about the bullying, merely saying that he is tired and wants to sleep.

Wednesday, February 15

David’s stepfather, Sam Mabuza, who did not go to work that day, wakes the teenager after when he realises that he is going to be late for school.

As on any other weekday, David puts on his uniform, eats breakfast and leaves for school.

Mabuza goes to visit relatives, deciding later to return home on foot instead of paying the R7 taxi fare.

David has, in the meantime, returned home and played a recording of his favourite gospel song.

When Mabuza opens the door of his home, he finds David hanged from the rafters.

“He was still breathing. I immediately cut the electric wire with a side cutter and quickly arranged transport to take him to the clinic.

“He was certified dead on arrival,” Mabuza says.

Searching through their son’s clothes, his parents find the letter from the principal, which he has not shown them.

“You are urgently requested to come to the above-mentioned school on February 15 at 8am in connection with your child David Hlongwane,” it reads. “Your immediate response would be much appreciated.”


David’s parents meet the principal, the four bullying pupils and the pupils’ parents.

Hlongwane says the youngsters admitted bullying her son.

But, she says, the principal insisted that only two of the pupils had participated in the attack. Instead of allowing the boys to speak for themselves, Serwadi spoke on their behalf.

Bullying David was not the boys’ first misdemeanour at school.

In November, one of them became rowdy during examinations. When he was silenced by a teacher, he made jokes about her, then slapped her face. He was suspended for seven days.

Nearly a week after David committed suicide, the chairman of the school governing body, Reginald Maganxa, says he did not know about the suicide.

He promised yesterday to call an urgent meeting of the executive committee of the governing body to discuss the teenager’s death.

Several attempts to reach Serwadi yesterday failed.

Charles Phahlane, spokesman for the Gauteng education department, said the department was “shocked” at the news of David’s death.

“We will investigate the circumstances of the assault.”

The department said it would send counsellors to David’s family.

Gauteng Childline director Lynne Cawood said bullying was on the increase but it was difficult to substantiate this because there was little research or baseline history.

“It is difficult to [prove] but bullying is definitely on the rise and this is concerning. It is exacerbated by the fact that bullying is taking a new form with the invention of communications technology . it is a worrying phenomenon.”

Johannesburg educational psychologist Melanie Hartgill echoed Cawood’s sentiments, saying technology made bullying easy. – Additional reporting by Sipho Masombuka


  • Lundun says:

    good day met

    good day metters

    grade ten 18 to 20 years old??? dem deh age deh still inna high school? or fi dem school system different?

    anyways back to the matter at hand, in england bullying is a big deal, if u r labelled a bully, yuh life dun ova yah. dem hate bullies in england, but kids kill themselves regularly because of it.

  • Met says:

    morning lundun…maybe dem ting set up different… dem fi really stamp it out because it cause whole heep a children fi tek dem life

  • Good morningggg everyone
    Dumb ass principal letter to take home? No yuh suspend then rass and call home to the parents…even dem nuh have a phone there u write dem den…KMFT mek a lil fcka think dem can put dem Hands pon mi son or DAWTA…because mi see mi self inna jail…maybe prison if this happen mi pikney

  • Lundun says:

    i think if a child kills themself and leave a note saying they don’t want 2 live anymore because of bullying, those bullies should be charged with involuntary manslaughter if possible.

    bullying is a serious issue, because not everybody is strong enough to stand up to bullies and they sometimes feel like no one can help because they will be seen as weak if they get their parents or the authorities.

  • Met says:

    dem should it gone way outa hand man

  • Quiet Storm says:

    Mi agree wid yuh Lundun, charge dem wid involuntary manslaughter….caw this ting ah get outta han

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