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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

Rights commission probes case of homophobic slur by student teacher

29 August 2022

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says it is investigating the death of PJ Simelane Secondary School pupil, Tiro Moalusi.

Moalusi committed suicide by ingesting rat poison following a homophobic slur by a student teacher on Tuesday, August 16. The 15-year-old was laid to rest in Soweto on Thursday, .

Provincial manager at the SAHRC, Buang Jones, said it is in the public interest and the interest of the affected family to establish the circumstances that led to the death of the Grade 9 pupil.

Jones added that the SAHRC investigation has just commenced and follows hot on the heels of another investigation by the Gauteng Department of Education.

“This case is important and the commission has determined that it is in the public interest and that of the affected family to establish the circumstances and to probe the alleged conduct of the teacher and the entire school environment,” Jones said.

Jones said part of the probe will also look into the way that the education system embraces and accommodates tolerance of the LGBTQI community.

“The probe will also ascertain if the school enables and embraces the LGBTQI community and if the curriculum responds to the issues of homophobia and unfair discrimination against members of the LGBTQI community,” he said.

Jones said social intolerance in communities has contributed to discrimination against the LGBTQI community, adding that there was a gap in legislation and policies governing the school curriculum.

“There is a gap in the education system in that the Department of Education has come up with policies and a curriculum that seek to combat discrimination that continues to deal with related intolerance over the years,” he said.

Last week, the Gauteng Department of Education said it was investigating the matter.

Moalusi committed suicide after a student teacher called him 'sisi bhuti' (sissy boy) when calling him up for a class presentation.

He was reportedly mocked and ridiculed by fellow students as a result of the slur. He tried to seek help from fellow teachers but no one assisted him. The schoolboy later related his ordeal to his aunt before ingesting poison. He died at Leratong Hospital after his family rushed him to the hospital.

Moalusi's death has prompted Uthingo Network and 23 other organisations to pen an open letter and petition to the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, demanding safe schools for the LGBTQI community. The letter also calls for the minister to hold educators accountable.

“The ongoing queer-phobic bullying and discrimination against queer learners by teachers and fellow learners are concerning.

“We believe, it is high time they received the required urgent attention from the Department of Education.

“This treatment towards queer learners is unacceptable and lack of action at your department exacerbates this behaviour and the subsequent disrespect of queer rights as provisioned by the South African Constitution,” reads part of the letter.

Source: IOL

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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