Msiteli High School in Mpopoma, Bulawayo, is under siege from rival pupils’ gangs fighting each other using dangerous weapons.
The violence reached a crescendo last Friday with the destruction of a section of the school’s precast wall and classrooms’ window panes. One of the gang members was said to have been seriously injured in the head following the attack of a girl who was then hospitalized a few weeks ago after a gang member sprayed pepper spray at the girls’ toilet.
Residents say the whole of last week the school resembled a war zone as the two gangs fought each other with stones, catapults, knives and knobkerries.
The two gangs are said to be boys from Mpopoma, Iminyela and Mabuthweni suburbs who are leaners at Msiteli and Sizane High School.
A Chronicle news crew witnessed the two combatant gangs in running battles at the school resulting in learning being briefly stopped after stones were thrown at some classrooms.
Screaming pupils ran for their lives as stones were thrown in the direction of their classrooms
The gangs arrived at the school from different directions before the fighting started with residents who live near the school running for their lives going to their houses as the stones started flying.
The gangs looked like people who knew what they were doing as they took different positions around the school during the attack. They attacked each other with stones and one of the gangs was over powered and they ran away.
The school head and some teachers came out of the school to inspect the section of the wall and windows that were destroyed.
The head was later forced to patrol the school surroundings using a white school commuter omnibus while some teachers were stationed at the gate.
Small fights broke out when pupils walked home which saw pupils running in different directions with school authorities and residents watching in disbelief.
The school head said the problem was caused by school leavers.
He said they once reported the fights to police before saying he will not say much as the school was still investigating the issue.
A vendor who sells her wares outside the school said the violence happened for quite some time and was shocked police were never brought in.
“I am a vendor near the school and I saw a group of about 20 boys coming from the northern side of the school through a passage between the houses. One member of the gang hit a rival gang member on the head nge nduku. He managed to escape but I fear he will suffer internal bleeding,” she said.
She said the school has on some occasions delivered its prefects at home using the school kombi following attacks.
A resident who lives near the school and witnessed the fight as he drove back from work, said the situation was tense during the attack and feared for the worst.
“I was coming from work and saw kids running in different directions. I stopped my car, waiting for the situation to settle as there were a lot of stones flying all over the place. One group was overpowered for a brief moment and I used that opportunity to drive to my house and park my car. But before long the overpowered group regrouped and they are the ones who pushed down the durawall and pelted stones that broke the window panes.
“We have never seen something like this and we don’t want to see it again. One would have expected that school authorities urgently phoned the police because when property is destroyed like this it is a serious cause for concern.