So many questions comes to mind as the investigation of the circumstances of the death of the KZN teacher in front of matric class.
South Africa’s first investigative podcast, Alibi, returns, and this time journalist Paul McNally is looking into the brutal assassination of a high school teacher.
Siya Bekwa lives with his parents. We are sitting on their plastic-covered couch in their clean and spacious lounge.
“It wasn’t like they were killing a human being. It was maybe like they were shooting an animal,” the young adult says while perched on the arm of the couch.
Bekwa witnessed the assassination of his teacher up close.
Priscilla Mchunu was acting principal at Laduma High. On March 18 2017 she was gunned down by two men in front of her pupils.
Bekwa was one of her history students attending an extra Saturday class.
“She was facing us like this. They started to shoot her. From the side,” he says as he gets up to act out the atrocity.
What’s incredible is how assassinations have become a growth industry in KZN
I ask how many times they shot her.
“Too many bullets,” he says, shaking his head.
There were an astonishing 19 bullets fired during the assassination. One assassin did the shooting while a second watched.
Students, including Bekwa, ran up and touched the body, not believing what had happened.
“I even touched her face. It was hot. And then when I came back she was cold. She passed away,” Bekwa says.
This story, which we at podcasting company Volume have turned into a six-part audio series, was presented to me when I was in KwaZulu-Natal looking into assassinations in the province. An organisation called KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC), which deals with violence mediation, said this was an area that was not receiving enough attention: the assassination of teachers.
I had never heard of anything like it. I was shocked, appalled and then fascinated.
Pricilla was 54 when she was killed. She lived in a house with her two children, mother and brother.
I spoke to one of Pricilla’s childhood friends, who didn’t want to be named, about the kind of place where they grew up. Sobantu, just outside Pietermaritzburg, is about 15km from Laduma High. It was a place with communal running water and tight relationships.
Pricilla grew up to be a force in her community: teaching generations. She taught Bekwa and his father, a successful police officer in the area who I will meet in a later episode.
Of course, the question that swirls around a case like this (once you establish it was definitely an assassination) is why would anyone assassinate a high school teacher? It is strongly suspected (by several sources I spoke to) that Pricilla was killed for her job.
She was acting principal and more than likely the hit was ordered by another teacher at the school who wanted the position. What’s incredible is how assassinations have become a growth industry in KwaZulu-Natal. They have become a mechanism to solve problems – be they financial, political, work based or romantic. However, when you are ordering hits on high school teachers, anyone and everyone with a little power is in danger.