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The parents of a 15-year-old schoolgirl are demanding answers from the Department of Education after their daughter was knocked unconscious by a gang of girls for kissing - it is claimed - another’s boyfriend.
The attack on the teenager in the toilets of Bechet Secondary School in Sydenham was caught on cellphone camera footage and has since gone viral on social media.
It comes as KwaZulu-Natal education authorities battle rampant bullying and violence at schools, with growing calls for greater safety measures to be implemented at schools.
Part of the footage shows a gang of five girls as they pummel their victim with punches and kicks while she cowers under a sink. Another cellphone camera captures the gang slapping and punching her as a schoolboy desperately tries to pull them away from her.
Speaking from the King Dinuzulu Hospital on Monday, where the petite girl was being assessed by a psychologist, her parents said they were angry there were no teachers on hand to stop their daughter from being assaulted.
According to the girl, she was lured to the toilets at the end of the first period last Wednesday where she was assaulted.
She said that during the attack she was knocked unconscious for a few minutes. She said when she came to, she was taken to the principal’s office. But en route she was attacked again.
“I am told that one of the girls dragged her along the concrete,” her mother told the Daily News on Monday.
“At this point even though she was being attacked for a second time, not one teacher intervened,” she said.
The mother said when her daughter got to the principal’s office she was made to write a statement.
She said it was alleged that she was attacked by the gang for apparently kissing a boyfriend of one of the girls.
The mother said that after taking down the statement of the girl, the deputy principal dropped her outside the gate of her home.
“They did not call me, not once, during the day to let me know that my child was assaulted and to tell me to come and pick her up. They decided upon themselves to drop her off at home. She could have got seriously ill.
“It was only after I came home after 6pm that night that I found out what happened and took her to the hospital,” she said.
On the evening of the attack the Grade 9 pupil was attended to at King Dinuzulu Hospital and went back for treatment on Saturday after persistent dizziness and headaches, her parents said.
On Monday, they took her, on the instruction of the doctor, to see a psychologist and for CT scans.
“We are worried about her because she can taste blood in her nasal passages. She could have been seriously hurt. In some of the videos you can see how they kick her face while she is down. She hit her head against the sink and that is what made her pass out,” her mother said.
The mother said when she went to the school on Thursday, she was told by the principal to keep her daughter at home until after the school completed its disciplinary tribunal as the school could not guarantee her daughter’s safety.
The mother is now concerned that her daughter could fall behind in the academic year for missing classes just a week before she is due to write mid-year exams.
“This should never be happening at schools,” the girl’s father said.
“Our children should be safe when they are in school. We want the school and Department of Education to be held accountable for what happened.”
The parents have laid a charge of assault with the police against the girls who attacked their daughter.
Police spokesman Captain Nqobile Gwala said a case of common assault was being investigated by Sydenham police.
“No arrests made, investigations are continuing,” she said.
The school principal declined to comment, citing departmental protocol, but said the matter had been reported to the school governing body and the department.
KZN Education spokesman Muzi Mahlambi said the girls involved in the incident at Bechet Secondary School would be investigated and warned that the department would take harsh action against them.
“We are taking drastic measures because we want it to be a lesson to those who think it is a cool thing to do at schools to abuse others. Bullying has no place at our schools, it is abusive and we want to warn even those at Bechet that we will take action,” he said.
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