TWENTY-THREE students at Amhlophe High School in Bulawayo yesterday descended into hysteria, prompting the school to suspend classes and the government to commit to providing counseling services to learners.
Most of the students who have been affected are in third grade while one of them is in first grade.
The incident happened just after 8am at the school located in Pumula East.
The Director of Communication and Advocacy of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Mr. Taungana Ndoro, said:
“I can confirm that 23 of our learners fell into hysterics at Amhlophe High School in Bulawayo.
We have contacted the parents of the learners concerned to come and take them home.
Most of the learners were in the third class while one of them was in the first class.
The incident temporarily disrupted learning, but then everything returned to normal.
He said it was not the first time such an incident had happened at a school in the country, but the ministry has yet to establish what could be the cause.
Mr. Ndoro said the government will provide counseling services to students at Amhlophe High School next week.
“On Monday, our ministry teams will provide psychosocial support to learners.
We can only provide scientific support to learners and we have no opinion on what might have happened.
Remember that the Witchcraft Suppression Act is still in force, so we cannot have an opinion on this except by providing scientific evidence,” Mr Ndoro said.
When a Chronicle news crew visited the school yesterday, some parents and students thronged outside seeking answers about what had happened.
The students are said to have been seen acting haphazardly as some of them ran out of the classrooms through the windows.
School authorities reportedly initially assumed the students were struggling only to realize that was not the case.
Some of the learners were seen shaking while seemingly moaning in pain in the school’s administration block.
Others had to be supported by their parents and guardians as they struggled to walk on their own.
The incident saw Bulawayo Acting Provincial Director of Education, Mr Jabulani Sibanda and his team visit the school to assess the situation on the ground.
At the entrance to the school premises, the parents and guardians concerned had engaged a self-proclaimed prophet.
A relative, Mr Busani Nkomo, said the incident was worrying.
“We just saw the students getting chaotic and at first we thought they were fighting.
But things got intense as some of them started to fall over and moan. It didn’t make sense and that’s when the residents started gathering at the entrance to the school.
I am also told that this is not the first time this has happened, just that today it got intense,” Mr Nkomo said.