A 15-year-old South African student, who was assaulted by her fellow mates in school, reportedly took her own life after the video of the bullying incident went viral, local news outlet TimesLIVE reported.
The deceased teen, identified as Lufuno Mavhunga, was a student at Mbilwi Secondary School in the province of Limpopo. The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the victim’s brother told the news outlet she was assaulted by the two bullies after one of them took issue with Lufuno blocking her on WhatsApp and Facebook. The deceased teen took that action because the bully had been sending her insulting messages on both platforms.
In the video of the April 12 incident, the two bullies are seen confronting Lufuno with one of them slapping her multiple times. Lufuno is seen trying to shield herself from the abuse and is heard telling the bully, “You are hurting me.” The bully, however, disregards her pleas and continues beating her. During the assault, other students who witnessed the incident can be heard cheering the bully.
In the aftermath of the assault, the victim’s brother, Dakalo Mavhunga, told TimesLIVE she contacted him crying and narrated what had transpired. She also told him she might have failed a test because the assault left her devastated. The school’s principal allegedly did not pursue the issue after it was also reported.
“When she explained the incident to me she sent me a WhatsApp message and I felt that when I knocked off [from work] I should call her. She kept on sending texts … crying. I told her I would try to call her,” Dakalo said.
“I asked her what was happening and she said no-one even tried to help. When I called her she told me she couldn’t write and thinks she failed and the school didn’t get involved. The principal was told about the issue but he didn’t attend to the matter.”
Following the assault, authorities said Lufuno went home and overdosed on tablets. She was later found unconscious by her mother. “The victim reportedly went home in the afternoon and, on arrival, locked herself in the room and consumed an overdose of tablets,” Police spokesperson Brig Motlafela Mojapelo said. “She was apparently found by her mother lying unconscious and was taken to Siloam Hospital, where she was certified dead on arrival.”
The 15-year-old bully was arrested two days after Lufuno’s death. “The arrested child will be dealt with in accordance with the Child Justice Act,” Mojapelo added.
Authorities also said the perpetrator was a serial bully and had been involved in previous altercations. “The perpetrator was involved in fighting before. She is known to be a bully and started this [behavior] while she was still in grade 8,” office manager for the South African Human Rights Commission in Limpopo, Victor Mavhidula, told TimesLIVE.
Mavhidula added: “What we are going to do is to get more information. We also want to investigate if the department of education was aware of this incident and what is it that was done, because if a learner assaults somebody the principal or teachers must assist the learners to open a case with the police and that was not done. The principal was aware that there was a fight.”
Meanwhile, Lufuno’s family said they want justice for the deceased teen. Her brother, who said her name means “love”, described her as a peaceful person. “She was a very peaceful person and she had love, as her name suggests. She didn’t fight back when she was being slapped, she only tried to explain. But the girl didn’t even give her a chance,” Dakalo said. “As a family all we want is for Lufuno to find justice from what she has faced, maybe after that her soul will rest in peace.”
Lufuno was buried on Saturday.