The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) would like to express its sadness and exasperation at the alarming increase in the number of incidents of violence in schools in the form of bullying, suicide, stabbing and shooting since the beginning of the 2023 academic year.

·       At Geluksdal Secondary School in Brakpan, Gauteng: A Grade 10 learner was stabbed to death allegedly by fellow learners.

·       At Kagiso Secondary School, Gauteng: A man allegedly entered the school and took hostage some staff members. He allegedly stabbed and wounded one of the teachers and was subsequently shot dead by another teacher.

·       At Tlotlisong Secondary School in Ficksburg, Free State: A Grade 9 pupil allegedly poisoned himself and died following alleged humiliation by teachers in front of other learners. Following the suicide, angry learners attacked teachers, damaged the school, police and teachers’ vehicles accusing them for being the cause of the learner’s death.

·       At Sonyongwane High School, Southern KwaZulu Natal: A 17-year old Grade 11 learner committed suicide allegedly because of bullying by her schoolmates who constantly told her she was ugly and teased her about the shape of her head.

·       At Ntsu Secondary School in Bethlehem, Free State: The school principal allegedly used corporal punishment on a learner who had allegedly skipped detention.

·       In a number of schools across the country we still observe the sexual assault and harassment of learners by those who are supposed to protect being teachers. This group of unprofessional sex pests continue to damage the profession. It is only counterrevolutionaries who can engage in this kind of violence against our children in our schools.

These incidents clearly indicate that schools are no longer safe havens they are supposed to be but they endanger the lives of learners as well as teachers. On dealing with issues of bullying which allegedly led to learners committing suicide, teachers are not able to deal decisively with such issues as it is not easy to identify individual challenges of learners in overcrowded classrooms. SADTU is calling for the creation of safe spaces for learners to confide in them about the issues they face. We again reiterate our call for dedicated psychosocial services in schools.

Our schools do not have enough infrastructure to ensure learners, teachers and communities do not bring weapons to schools. We call for properly trained security personnel to oversee security in schools.

We condemn the use of corporal punishment by teachers; it is a violation of children’s rights and dignity, perpetuates violence and may lead to the learner being aggressive and anti-social.

Over and above, SADTU believes violence does not emanate nor end in schools but is a societal issue. We therefore reiterate our call to all stakeholders in education, more especially, communities and parents to be involved in schools in their neighbourhoods through the union’s “I am A School Fan” campaign. The campaign calls on all stakeholders to make schools safe havens, stop violence against teachers and learners, stop vandalising schools, keep schools safe and clean and build a caring society. It’s our business as human beings in all spheres of life to protect everyone in our society and schools must be havens of safety.


ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat


General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968

Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651

Secretariat Officer, Xolani Fakude: 071 355 1566

Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157