Ntsika Senior Secondary School in Makhanda in the Eastern Cape is closed on Tuesday to allow pastors from different denominations to perform an exorcism on the school grounds after dozens of pupils started showing strange symptoms.
The symptoms included collapsing and screaming hysterically.
The Eastern Cape Department of Education said Grade 12 pupils, mostly girls, had seemingly been “captured by evil spirits”.
The chaotic scenes at the school began on Friday during lessons and was repeated on Monday during prayers. Pupils started falling to the ground and crying hysterically.
Education department spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima said ambulances, police and social workers were roped in to calm the pupils.
The symptoms affected mainly girls, Mtima said.
While the department and the school did not reveal the number of pupils affected by the mysterious condition, News24 has learnt that only Grade 12 pupils had been affected.
Social network groups in Makhanda were abuzz on Monday with concerned members of the public advising parents to fetch their children at the school.
“The situation was so chaotic parents fetched their kids but after some time the situation calmed and prayers took place and later leaners were released to go home and be back on Wednesday, allowing the parents and fraternal ministry to plan a way forward,” Mtima said on Monday.
Mtima added that pupils were expected back at school on Wednesday.
“Parents and pastors will continue to do cleansing today (Tuesday) in all classes. No one is injured, it’s prayers all over the corridors and they are still there, and today (Tuesday) is another planned cleansing prayer around the school yards.”
The school posted a message on its Facebook page on Monday calling for calm and asking for prayers.
“As you may be aware, we are facing some difficulties at school that started on Friday last week. Learners fell ill with an unknown problem. We have engaged the assistance of the Department of Education, the Makhanda CMC (Circuit Management Centre), the social development department, SAPS, health workers, pastors, and many concerned parents. We are all working together to ensure the safety of the learners.”
The post further stated that the school would remain closed on Tuesday and a prayer vigil, attended by religious leaders from Makhanda, will be held.
“We invite all the learners who were affected and their parents to attend the prayer vigil. We ask you to keep our community in your prayers.”
Ntsika Senior Secondary School principal Madeleine Schoeman also took to Facebook urging residents not to spread fake news.
“Dear members, Ntsika is experiencing a challenging time. Please help us by keeping calm and not spread rumours. A number of experts are at the school to counsel and assist.”
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