“I thought one of my friends had hit me at the back and I fell down, but I was shocked when my friends said I had been shot,” said 15-year-old Zintle Khoza who was hit by a stray bullet while eating in class.
According to the Educators Union of South Africa (Eusa) there was a shootout outside Fusion Secondary School in Lotus Gardens, west Pretoria, at about 11am.
Eusa’s spokesperson Kabelo Mahlobogwane said it was reported that two unknown men wielding automatic rifles were seen chasing and shooting at a man who also had a rifle just outside the school yard when the bullet went inside the grade 8 class.
Speaking from her hospital bed at Kalafong Hospital in Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria, grade 10 pupil Zintle said she was in pain but was grateful for her life.
“It was during break time and I went to the grade 8 class to sit with my friends. We heard gun shots from outside and we looked through the window to see what was happening. I felt something hitting me in the back and I fell.
“My friends started screaming that I was shot and when I touched my back, my hand came back wet with blood. I started feeling sharp pains.”
Her mother Cynthia Khoza, 46, said she was at work when she received the call that her daughter had been hit by a stray bullet.
“I immediately rushed to the school and I saw a man lying dead outside the school premises.
“She was very weak when the ambulance came for her. I was shocked and scared at the same time as she could have been shot in the head.”
She said the doctors told her the bullet missed Zintle’s spine by an inch.
“They said they will not remove the bullet as that will be dangerous for her. She will live with the bullet for the rest of her life. I am grateful that God has spared her life.
“She has been discharged today and the doctors told me to come back tomorrow [Thursday]. At this stage I can’t blame the school for the incident because the shooting happened outside. But it’s very scary as the school is the safe place.”
The pupils said they were still shocked by the incident.
A 15-year-old grade 10 pupil said they no longer feel safe at school.
“I ran to the toilets when I heard the gunshots and only came out when it was quiet and I realised that one of the learners was shot. We were scared thinking that the men will come back again,” he said.
Gauteng education spokesperson Steve Mabona said the department was aware and saddened by the incident.
“The stray bullet was shot from the street and penetrated through the classroom window and hit a learner on her back.
“Subsequently, the learner who got hit by the bullet was accompanied by her friend to the admin block to report the injury. The principal attended to the child in the sick room to determine what happened.”
Mabona said the police were investigating circumstances surrounding the incident and the department has dispatched officials from the psychosocial unit to render counselling services to the school and the affected family.