An investigation has been launched into the death of an eight-year-old girl who was allegedly kicked and beaten by three school bullies at a Soweto primary school, the Gauteng education department said on Tuesday.
"This matter only came to our attention yesterday [Monday]," spokesperson Phumla Sekhonyane said.
"An independent investigation has been instituted to investigate the circumstances around this incident."
The Daily Sun reported that Lebohang Makala returned home from school on February 14 limping and with swollen legs.
She told her mother Martha Makala that three boys hit her for no reason while she was playing with other girls at the Batsogile Primary School.
"Lebohang said one of the boys hit her on the head with his fist. She said the boys attacked her, threw her to the floor, and kept on hitting her," said the mother.
Apparently no teachers were at the school at the time, and other children could not find anyone to help Makala, who lay helplessly on the ground.
'Cried all night'
The family took the girl to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital where X-rays were taken and medication given to her.
Makala returned home.
"She was crying in pain all day. She couldn't sleep and cried all night," her mother told the newspaper.
The family took her back to the hospital on Thursday and she died on Friday, a week after the attack.
Doctors told the family Makala had excessive internal bleeding, according to the publication.
Sekhonyane said the school had failed to report the incident to the department.
On Monday, her parents went to the department and the local police station to report the matter.
"We immediately dispatched a team to the school, as well as a team … to assist with counselling for the mother of the deceased and the school," the department spokesperson said.
"We are looking into why this matter was not reported to the Gauteng department of education head office."
Sekhonyane said officials had met Makala's parents on Monday but could not divulge details of their conversation.
"All they have told us will form part of the investigation. I am not able to talk about what was discussed. It is very tragic and we are very concerned."
Sekhonyane was unable to talk about the incident itself or the girl's injuries.
"That will form part of the investigation," she said.
Sekhonyane was also unable to comment on whether the family would be compensated.
"I can't comment on that. We are supporting the family in every way we can."
Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Kay Makhubela said a case was opened on Monday.
"It was only opened [on Monday] by the parents. There was no case reported to the police before that," he said. "The school did not open a case."
He said police did not know what injuries the girl sustained. "We just got [information] that the child was injured in school." Makhubela said the matter would be investigated. "The circumstances of what transpired will be looked into." – Sapa