Prosecutor push for 13-year-old pupil to face adult trial over headteacher shooting

By , K24 Digital
On Wed, 21 Feb, 2024 14:33 | 2 mins read
A pupil in class. Image used for representation. PHOTO.WFP

A 13-year-old schoolboy in South Africa, arrested after allegedly shooting and injuring his principal, may be tried as an adult, the prosecuting authority says.

The boy, who has not been named, has been charged with attempted murder.

His alleged 51-year-old victim is currently recovering in intensive care in hospital.

The shooting has shocked many people in South Africa, where there is growing concern over violence in schools.

The pupil allegedly used his father's gun in Friday's shooting at a primary school in Germiston, east of the main city of Johannesburg.

The father has also been arrested on suspicion of negligence in relation to a firearm and was expected to appear in court on Tuesday, a police spokesperson, Col Dimakatso Nevhuhulwi, told the BBC.

During a visit to the school on Monday, Gauteng province's Education Minister Matome Chiloane alleged that the boy drew up a "hitlist" of three teachers "who were giving him problems in school".

"As we interviewed his friends, they said this thing has been planned for a while. Apparently, they had a WhatsApp group where they were communicating and planning this gruesome event."

He alleged the pupil had taken bullets to the school on a previous occasion.

Neither the boy nor his father has commented on the allegations.

Under South Africa's Child Justice Act, a 12- or 13-year-old is presumed not to have "criminal capacity" unless the state can prove otherwise.

In the case of this shooting, following a request from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), a magistrate has ordered a report into the boy's ability to tell right from wrong and an assessment of his cognitive, moral, emotional, psychological and social development.

The magistrate will then decide if he can be tried as an adult.

This was being done to determine the appropriate way to proceed with the case, NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane told the BBC.

Reflecting on the case, Pretty Ndlovu, a senior social worker at the National Children and Violence Trust charity, said she was concerned about the prevalence of gun crimes in the country and their impact on children.

"We are going through a lot as people and there is often fighting in the home, which can lead to anger issues in a child. No child can wake up and carry a gun. Where are we as parents and educators? Why are we not monitoring our children? We are losing a generation," she said.

Mr Chiloane said that whatever the outcome of the legal process the alleged perpetrator would have to "undergo stringent rehabilitation" before being allowed back into the education system.

Safety in schools has been a major concern in Gauteng, the province with the biggest population in South Africa and its economic heartland.

The shooting comes weeks after a student was stabbed to death and another injured at a secondary school south of Johannesburg.

Mr Chiloane promised to increase security at schools across the province after that incident.

On Monday, Gauteng's Premier Panyaza Lesufi said that "selected high-risk schools" identified by the department of education are being monitored via CCTV cameras.

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