Swaziland
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MYSTERY AS PUPILS HALLUCINATE AT SCHOOL

MBABANE – Learners had to be released prematurely yesterday at Mphumelelweni High School after they behaved strangely, becoming violent as they hallucinated and cut themselves with broken bottles.

The learners are said to have been screaming and falling on the ground among other things.  The school is situated at Maphalaleni and is new in the community. The questionable behaviour by the pupils is said to have been ongoing since last month, such that a number of them no longer attended school in fear of suffering from the attacks. Almost half of the learners are no longer attending classes at the school, which has an enrolment of around 84 learners. In an interview, some parents of the affected children stated that they were worried by the recent developments at the school.

The parents stated that the most shocking development was that when the attacks happened, the learners shouted one of the teachers’ name and attacked him with stones. The teacher was said to be no longer reporting to school, according to the parents. They claimed that they attempted on several times to meet with the school administration but could not succeed.  “Our children are missing out on a lot of learning time and this will affect their results,” lamented the parents. According to the parents, a meeting was held at the school on Monday but no solution was reached. A teacher at the school, who preferred to remain anonymous in fear of victimisation, said all the classes from Form I to V were affected.

Worse

The teacher said both boys and girls were affected and the situation was getting worse, such that they feared that the children would get injured.  “Children leave the classrooms in full sprint towards the bushes, while others go behind the classrooms collecting bottles and cutting themselves, sucking their own blood.” The teacher said the situation was terrifying as the pupils would use anything to hurt themselves, including bottles and nails. She said teachers were confused and did not know what to do. The teacher said they had been engaging with the head teacher and the Regional Education Office (REO) but there had been no solution.

She added that the matter had been reported to the school committee, which addressed the REOs office. The teacher said the regional reginal officer (REO) had not visited the school but only sent the police to maintain order. Reached for comment, the School Committee Chairperson, Mduduzi Dlamini, said the matter was reported to the REO. Dlamini said they also requested to host a prayer service at the school but were not given permission as it was against the regulations. The chairperson said the prayer service was eventually held after the chief gave the green light.  

Prayer

He said during the prayer, the pupils shouted the names of two teachers whom they said could assist in setting them free. “We engaged one of the teachers who was implicated and now the learners want the other one.” Dlamini said the challenges started last year but the situation had been getting worse since last month. He said a meeting with parents was also convened but did not provide a solution. Interviewed, the Head teacher, Innocent Cindzi, said they had to release the learners early due to the situation. Cindzi said it was not true that he was avoiding to meet the parents as they had a meeting last week at the school. He said they continued to engage with the REO and classes would continue but those who were affected would be excused to get assistance. Acting Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Ntombenhle Dlamini said they were aware of the matter which was being addressed at regional level.