The pupils at Tshefoge Primary School at Vaalboschloot, North West, were preparing for classes on Monday when teacher Leah Phele came running and screaming for help as she was being chased by a teacher from another school.

He allegedly stabbed her several times in full view of the learners. The 64-year-old suspect, a teacher from Tolamo Primary School at Letlhakaneng village near Brits, left Phele, 47, lying in a pool of blood in front of her pupils. She is currently fighting for her life in hospital.

The incident happened as the first cohort of learners had reopened schools for the second term.

Samson Siwela, chairperson of school governing body (SGB), said he received a call from community members just after 8am telling him about the incident.

“When I got to the school the community members had already gotten hold of the suspect. It is alleged that the suspect came to the school wearing a hat and a mask. Teacher Phele was standing outside with other teachers as they were planning their day in a community hall as their school is undergoing renovations, ” he said.

Siwela said the suspect manhandled Phele in front of her colleagues, demanding to talk to her.

“She started screaming for help, running inside the hall which houses four grades. Her pleas fell on deaf ears as the suspect followed her inside the hall where he allegedly stabbed her a number of times in front of the learners. At this stage we don’t know what led to the stabbing as he was from another school,” he said.

Siwela said they were disturbed by the incident which had left both pupils and teachers traumatised.

Phele’s uncle Isaac Boikanyo said he heard pupils calling his name.

“I rushed into the hall and my niece was lying in a pool of blood. I saw five stab wounds. I don’t understand who would want to hurt her like that. She is a married woman with one kid. As the family we are praying for her recovery as she is in the intensive care unit fighting for her life,” she said.

When Sowetan visited the school yesterday, pupils were receiving counselling.

Provincial education MEC Mmaphefo Matsemela also visited the school to give support to learners and teachers.

“As a department we are very much disturbed and disappointed by such a heinous and barbaric incident which happened in our school, allegedly perpetrated by one of our educators. This has also traumatised our learners since it happened in front of them. I wish to thank the staff members who apprehended the suspect,” Matsemela said.

North West police spokesperson Lieut-Col Adele Myburgh said when police arrived at the scene, they found that the suspect had been assaulted and he was taken to a local healthcare facility.

“The suspect is currently under police guard,” she said.