Teen died by suicide after teacher ‘mocked’ him for being gay – Tiro Moalusi’s family demand justice

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Tiro Moalusi's family wants justice for their child
Tiro Moalusi's family wants justice for their child
Trevor Kunene

Six months have passed since their child's death, and they're still looking for answers everywhere.

The family of Tiro Moalusi, a pupil from PJ Simelane who ingested rat poison after a teacher allegedly mocked him for being gay on 16 August 2022, is still waiting. 

The family was allegedly promised counselling, and they haven’t got any. Instead, they are fighting for their child to get justice and to expose the school for allegedly not punishing the teacher after they reported the teacher and other pupils corroborated the story of what led to Tiro’s death.

Tiro’s aunt, Masingita Khosa, tells Drum that they were kept in the dark about the investigations after someone from the department took their statement. She says no one came back to check how the mother is doing even after they have expressed that they are scared she might commit suicide as well.

Read more | 'Our child deserves justice' - family still wants answers from the school after son's death

“I had to reach out to the department and even after that, they didn’t seem like they were keen to assist us. I am worried about my sister because of the way that she speaks. Every once in a while, she tells me that she thinks of buying the same poison that Tiro took. She says she will feed it to herself and her remaining daughter. If the department offers her professional help, it will be easy for her to come to terms that she lost her son.”

Masingita says they want to know if the department believes that the teacher is innocent and is not guilty why did they move her from the school. She is no longer at the school.

“There is a lot that we need clarity on because initially we were told that the department is holding the investigation. When I saw that they were quiet now I called the person who took my statement when I went to the school to report that Tiro passed away. The person named Gugu, I can’t remember her surname told me that the teacher is not registered with the department. Now I want to know whose the problem is. What are we supposed to do with that information?”

Masingita says she wants the spokesperson who was always engaging with them to give them an update, and not to get a call informing them that the teacher is not registered with them.

“How was she hired if she is not registered? We lost a child because of a woman who saw it fit to comment on his sexuality that had nothing to do with schoolwork. We won’t just leave it for God to fix it. We are poor and can’t afford a good lawyer, but we will fight until everyone who is supposed to give us an answer goes to jail. I don’t want to lose my sister and therefore I am prepared to go to war and get my nephew justice."

Read more |'We saw the CCTV footage, teachers were on their phones' - grandpa of tot (3) who died at preschool

"Last time they told us about opening an inquest file when we have received confirmation that Tiro died because of poison."

The Gauteng Department of Education spokesperson Steve Mabona says the Department can confirm that the investigation is still ongoing. It must also be noted that this matter was reported to South African Council for Educators (SACE) for necessary action.

“Staff, SGB, stakeholder, parents and learners’ advocacy interventions on gender-based issues were activated. The department dispatched a team of psychologists to the said school to deal with staff debriefing under the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and counselling all affected learners. Student teachers were inducted on the department’s roles and responsibilities.”

He says full-time educators are made aware of their roles and responsibilities during teacher practice mentoring programme. The Dobsonville CPF dispatched six extra patrollers to assist with safety following disruptions by learners.

“An anti-bullying advocacy intervention was conducted. The department clarified school management teams, roles and responsibilities, Code of Conduct for educators, and duty roosters.” 

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