Head shoots pupils

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A HIGH school head and a teacher shot dead one pupil and injured two others in a stone- throwing incident over the cost of a trip, South African police said yesterday. The pair opened fire at the school in Scottburg, 300 miles south of Durban.

The incident began after the students paid paid 10 rand (pounds 1) for transportation for a field trip but were later told the fee was only eight rand, said Bala Naidoo, a police director. They demanded the difference be refunded. The educators refused. The students then stoned the principal's car. He and several teachers were in the library when the students attacked it too, shattering windows. A teacher and the principal pulled guns and opened fire. Sithembiso Gcwenya, 19, fell dead and two others were wounded.

The shootings came as South Africans are increasingly worried about school violence and as the country is experiencing a crime wave. "It's shocking because these things you see on TV, now it's happening in our area," said Mandla Msibi, an education department spokesman. "If it keeps happening it will destroy the culture of learning and teaching in our schools." He added: "The parents of the killed boy were in tears. They couldn't tell me anything. They were in shock."

The principal and teacher were charged with murder and attempted murder and released on 1,000 rand bail each.

One month ago, robbers shot dead an elementary school principal in her school in Soweto, near Johannesburg. Three weeks ago, two students at a school near Durban killed the father of a fellow student while hijacking his car.

Vigilante groups have been set up and "criminal elements" hanging around schools have been handed to police.