Family puts the blame on teacher for suicide of grade 6 pupil

A day after their 12-year-old son hung himself, leaving a note that he was being bullied by one of his teachers, the same educator visited the family. 

Nosipho Nkosi – the aunt of Sibusiso Mbatha, who killed himself on Monday evening because he was bullied for being gay – said the teacher who allegedly bullied him and allegedly hit him the day before, came to their home to gloat.  

Sibusiso Mbatha, a grade 6 pupil at Khehlekile Primary School in Thokoza in Ekurhuleni hung himself in the outside toilet of his home.

His teacher, Sonny Dlamini, whom the family said the boy had complained about numerous times, allegedly told the family the day after his death that he had warned him about being gay.

“I told him to leave his gayness,” Nkosi alleged that Dlamini told the grieving family.

Nkosi said the visit had devastated the boy’s mother Mpumi Mbatha, who is already blaming herself for not taking action when her son complained countless times about “Sir Dlamini”.

Describing Sibusiso as a cheerful and outspoken child who identified with the LGBTQI+ community, Nkosi said the family loved him as he was.

“He was an overachiever who thought he would win the likes of Sir Dlamini by outperforming academically,” said Nkosi.

Mother blames herself for child’s death

“Even his mother would encourage him to do well in school, saying that people such as Mbatha ‘would eventually come around’.

“She blames herself for not reporting her son’s cries for help to the school,” said Nkosi.

According to Nkosi, it was not the first time that Sibusiso raised concerns about how “Sir Dlamini” was treating him.

On the day he committed suicide, said Nkosi, Sibusiso apparently had an altercation with one of his classmates.

He said though Sibusiso was outspoken and stoop up for himself when bullied by his peers, he was very frustrated by his teacher.

Sibusiso Mbatha, 12, was allegedly bullied for being gay

“On Monday, he was apparently called isitabane [gay] and ridiculed about the shape of his head by one of his classmates.

“Sibusiso apparently also ridiculed his classmate back. The teacher apparently came when the other children were laughing to restore order.

“He told the pupil who started the insults to go and he [allegedly] beat up Sibusiso,” Nkosi said.

She explained further: “He told him that he must leave his ‘gayness’ outside the school gates. As a family, we have downplayed how serious Sir Dlamini’s words and actions towards him affected him.”

Nkosi said Sibusiso was not his usual spirited self when he came home from school on Monday.

“He told his mother that he was not going back to school the next day. He went to the bedroom to change his school clothes.”

It was during the evening when the family was watching television that Sibusiso went outside.

Family’s gory find

It was in the outside toilet, which is not used often by the family, that Sibusiso hung himself, said Nkosi.

“He was found by a family acquittance who alerted his mother, uncles and siblings who were in the house,” said Nkosi.

It was a traumatic experience for the large family of about 14 members, with his mother Mpumi Mbatha and Sibusiso’s elder brother and uncles being the first people to see him in the toilet.

His younger cousins also saw him.

“He was rushed to the nearby clinic and he died there.” 

Gauteng education MEC Matome Chiloane visited the family on Thursday and announced that an independent law firm will be appointed to investigate the circumstances around Sibusiso’s death.

“We have laws that guide us and we will be utilising every means possible to get to the bottom of [the matter],” Chiloane said.

“If there should be accountability and measures taken, they will be [taken] without fear or favour to anyone, including the teacher.

“This independent investigation will not stop our own internal investigation.”

Last words to his mother

According to Nkosi, Sibusiso wrote text messages to his mother at 3.12pm, 3.15pm and 3.16pm. The first message reads: “Mama bye, see you in heaven. Love you.”

The other said: “I want to kill myself because of building [sic] I get form [sic] my teacher sir Dlamini, he allways say things that heart [sic] me, so bye.”

The third message comprises of many crying emojis and broken hearts.

Unfortunately, his mother, according to Nkosi, did not see the messages until the next day on Tuesday.

Nkosi said Mpumi blames herself for not protecting her son against an adult who was allegedly hurting him.

Even the fact that she did not see the message on time to do something to help her son weighs down heavily on her.

Justice for Sibusiso

Nkosi said the family wants justice for their child.

“He wanted to be a doctor and we pushed him to do well at school and to be always at his best behaviour.

“We used to tell him that education was the only way he would make a success of his life and to achieve his goals.

“Little did we know that it was at school where he was marginalised and isolated.”

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