19 APRIL 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BULLYING MUST STOP IN ALL LEVELS OF THE SOCIETY
Bullying is a serious challenge facing many learners across the world. School bullying often takes place in and outside of school premises. In most cases, a group of learners would isolate one student who would become vulnerable to either physical, verbal, or emotional bullying. Female learners from poor backgrounds and migrant communities are often victims of this kind of bullying. According to Crime statistics of July 2020, 345 serious assaults and 546 common assault cases were opened due to bullying in the country’s schools.
On Monday, the 12 April 2021, a video of a 15-year-old learner Lufuno Mavhungu at Mbilwi Secondary School in Limpopo being attacked by fellow learners went viral on social media and sparked fury among many. Mavhungu is seen being repeatedly slapped while other pupils cheered on, taking a video of the incident. Once back home, she locked herself in her room and died after allegedly overdosing on prescription pills. She was rushed to hospital on Monday evening and was certified dead upon arrival.
This incident indicates the failure of Ubuntu and the growing of bystanders culture in South Africa society. Bullying is a longstanding challenge and sadly has never been appropriately addressed and now resulted in a young girl taking her life.
The death of Lufuno has shocked everyone in the country. Learners from the Africa Unite School Clubs also shared their views on the seriousness of bullying in schools. They condemned the incident to ensure that no learner goes through the same experience as Lufuno went through. Below are some of their comments:
“It is painful to see how we as the future leaders have become so toxic and detrimental. It is very sad to experience the trauma we have been putting each other through in the past years. It is only now we actually come to the realization of the fact that we are as good as the perpetrators because we do not only ignore these incidents during their occurrence, but we also contribute to the victim’s demise,” said Princess Mkhwanazi, 17 years old and President of the Africa Unite School Club at the Newgate College (Hillbrow).
“Children have to die and commit suicide first; women have to be reported missing and discovered dead, days later for us to realize that there’s a problem and it needs to be fixed,” Princess added.
“I am saddened by the news of the grade 10 learner who committed suicide because of bullying. Lufuno was ridiculed on Facebook because someone thought she was ugly. This indicates that this incident was deliberate. This shows the amount of self-hate amongst women, which is ignored in our daily lives,” said Nikita Nqwaba, grade 11 learner, Princeton High School (Cape Town).
Nikita Nqwaba added this: “Lufuno, we are sorry we never heard your cries until the last day. No one deserves to go through what you went through. Rest in peace, beautiful Lufuno, and may you cry no more.”
“What happened to Lufuno shocked me! But, one thing, I asked myself, is how many learners or children have been killed because of bullying, and what can we do as the youth? What can we do as the people of this country? I feel it’s not only the youth’s responsibility but everyone’s responsibility. We need to stand against bullying and GBV; we need to know why all these things are happening and what we can do to stop them. We need to have programs that are going to be based on bullying so that it can be easy for youth to talk when they have a problem at school.”
Said Khanyo Lose (Grade 11, Masibambane Secondary School in Kraaifontein, Cape Town)
School Club Members propose the following to the Department of Education:
- To build the confidence of learners starting from primary school
- To promote activities that enhance social-emotional learning (SEL) at the school level
- To increase the visibility of social workers at schools in disadvantaged communities
- To explain concept of bullying to the learners in their languages as most of them do not understand its implications.
- To create safe spaces where the learners can feel safe to report bullying.
The Africa Unite School Club Programme gives learners from disadvantaged backgrounds a platform to learn new skills, share their own experience with peers, sharpen their leadership skills, and promote the role of youth as equal partners in developing their schools and communities with the slogan “My school is my community“.
Contact Person: Akhona Madikane,