A 54-year-old Pietermaritzburg teacher – who was gunned down in front of 12 matric pupils she was tutoring on Saturday – will be remembered as a kind, friendly woman who always had a smile.
The motive for the murder is not known.
An emotional Zanele Mchunu on Sunday told The Mercury that the death of her sister, Priscilla, had broken their family. “We are completely shocked,” she said, fighting back tears.
She said Mchunu was the third born of four siblings and their mother was devastated. She also said Mchunu had two grown children – a son and a daughter – who were equally traumatised.
Aside from being a loving family member, Mchunu was a dedicated teacher. She was killed at Laduma High School in Edendale, Pietermaritzburg, where she had worked for more than 25 years. She was first employed there as a head of department in 1991, and later promoted to deputy principal. At the time of her death, she was acting principal.
“She gave the matric pupils extra history lessons every Saturday,” her sister said.
Education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwana said two people stormed her classroom while she was teaching and opened fire. She died on the scene.
The MEC visited the school on Saturday. “We learnt with shock about this tragic incident involving our dedicated teacher who had sacrificed her time to teach the children of our nation,” Dlungwana said. “Our prayers are with the family at this difficult time.”
Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said the shooting happened around 11am. “The deputy principal at Laduma High School was teaching Grade 12 learners when two unknown suspects with firearms entered the classroom,” she said.
They fired shots at her and she sustained multiple gunshot wounds to the head.
“A case of murder has been opened and is being investigated by the Plessislaer police,” she said.
“We are appealing to anyone with information about the suspects to contact their local police station or Crime Stop on 0860010111.”
The deputy secretary for the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union in KZN, Bheki Shandu, said they were “devastated”.
Those responsible were “callous murderers” who preyed on a “defenceless woman, who had volunteered to go the extra mile to help disadvantaged pupils”.
“We call on the community at large to assist the police however they can. We will be pleased if the police make an arrest swiftly,” he said.
Shandu said the union wanted a budget allocation for increased security at schools.
“If this school had had security guards stationed there, perhaps the murderers would have thought twice.”
In 2015, City Press reported that senior posts in the education department were being sold for cash.
In some media reports it was suggested that senior employees might have been killed for their posts.