15-year-old Tiro Moalusi took his own life after he was allegedly humiliated by a teacher
There were chaotic and emotional scenes on Tuesday as Tiro Moalusi was remembered by his grieving schoolmates and family, despite alleged bungling by school officials.
The 15-year-old gay Soweto teenager took his own life on 16 August after he was allegedly humiliated by a teacher in class because of his sexuality.
While the Gauteng Education Department says it has launched an investigation into the incident, the LGBTQ community remains angry and frustrated by the continued lack of safety and inclusion in South African schools.
On Tuesday, members of Tiro’s family, his friends, colleagues and representatives of Cosas (Congress of South African Students) gathered at the PJ Simelane Secondary School for a memorial service for the young man.
According to Tiro’s aunt Masingita Khosa, the service was to have been organised by the principal of the school. “He promised us a memorial service and promised to send a Quantum [van] to come to fetch the family.”
She claims, however, that the vehicle failed to arrive as scheduled and when Khosa contacted the principal, he informed her that the event had been cancelled by the Department of Education.
The distraught family and their supporters nevertheless made their way to the school and met up with students at the gates, demanding that the service go ahead as agreed. They refused to leave and told the principal that they’d hold the event in the street if need be.
The principal eventually agreed to open up a classroom for the gathering. It gave Tiro’s heartbroken family, friends and colleagues a chance to sing, weep and remember the youngster alongside his photograph. Two children held up a sheet of paper with the message “Tiro Moalusi, we will miss you”.
An emotional Khosa believes that the event was marred by the callousness of the school’s principal and teachers.
“Nothing was ready, nothing was prepared. The classroom was dirty and not even one teacher was there. We wanted Tiro’s teachers just to say something but they were not there. The principal also didn’t say anything,” Khosa says.
“We are hurting. We wanted just one thing to be good for Tiro. It was [meant to be] the first step of healing.”
MambaOnline was unable to contact the school on its listed telephone number. Tiro Moalusi will be laid to rest on Thursday 25 August.
If you are having thoughts of suicide please call the South African Depression and Anxiety Group Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 at any time, day or night.