The mother of the 14-year-old girl who allegedly assaulted Lufuno Mavhunga hours before the pupil took her own life, says her daughter is filled with regret over the incident.
In an interview televised on Sunday night with Newzroom Afrika, the woman said while her child will receive counselling, Lufuno’s death is something that will remain with her forever.
“I don’t think she is proud [of the incident]. I remember her saying, ‘I wish I didn’t beat this child’,” said the mother.
“Even if we take her for counselling, she must be able to counsel herself and say this is the situation and this is how far my guilt is in the situation. I know she is not a cold soul that takes [the situation] for granted or ignores it,” she added.
The mother is not being named to protect the identity of her child, who is still a minor.
News of Mavhunga’s suicide shocked the nation several weeks ago and put the spotlight on school bullying.
The 15-year-old victim took her own life after a video, showing her being repeatedly slapped by her schoolmate, went viral on social media. She overdosed on pills.
Officials from the Mbilwi High School in Sibasa outside Thohoyandou, where the girls were pupils, opened a case of assault as the incident happened at school.
The pained mother said she was shocked and outraged seeing the video of her daughter attacking Lufuno. She asked her daughter about the incident and learnt there had been a R5 bet put forward by other children that her daughter would assault Lufuno — after an exchange on social media between the two girls.
“I told her that she broke my heart. I told her that she is in trouble and now that it has escalated to this level, as a family we are in trouble,” the woman added.
Her daughter spent several weeks in a place of safety and was eventually granted bail and released into her parent’s care last week.
Limpopo National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Mashudu Malabi-Dzangi said bail was granted on condition the accused did not interfere with witnesses or travel outside Limpopo without the knowledge of the investigating officer.
“The case is remanded to May 27 for further investigations. The pupil is facing assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm charges,” said Malabi-Dzangi.
In the TV interview, the mother apologised to Lufuno’s family.
She said South Africans should know her daughter’s actions do not make her an animal and hoped her punishment would be equivalent to the crime.
Speaking to TimesLIVE on Monday afternoon, Lufuno’s elder brother Dakalo said her family had not yet seen the television interview.
He said the family of the girl who assaulted his sister had not yet made contact.
“We haven’t resisted meeting with them as long as things are done in a proper manner. We would like to hear from them but it has to be away from the eyes of the media,” said Dakalo.
He said they were still struggling to comprehend what had happened but were taking things one day at a time.
“It is more difficult for my mom who is on medication. It is harder now because everyone has left after the funeral and it is quiet. I am not at home either but my father tells me that she cries a lot and struggles to sleep,” Dakalo added.
Asked how the family felt about the girl being granted bail, Dakalo said perhaps she should not have been granted bail.
“We were not expecting it because a lot of people, even those who are not related to us are angry. If anything were to happen to her out here, our family would be the first suspects, so for her own safety, we expected her to be kept there until the case is concluded,” he said.
Asked if his family was ready to forgive, Dakalo said only time would tell.