14 November 2017

South Africa: 'It Still Hurts Me,' Says Father of Son Who Drowned in School's Pit Toilet

Photo: Supplied
Posters commemorating Michael Komape wh died after he fell into a pit toilet at Mahlodumela Primacy School in Chebeng Village, outside Polokwane, on 20 January 2014.

The father of a Limpopo learner, Michael Komape, on Tuesday testified in court how his friend was allegedly pressured to erase photos that were taken of the pit toilet that his son had drowned in.

Testifying in a civil hearing in the Limpopo High Court, James Komape said he arrived at the Mohlodumela Primary School in Chebeng village, north-west of Polokwane, hours after his son was found dead.

The five-year-old died on January 20, 2014, after falling into the school's pit toilet.

James waited for emergency officials to retrieve his son's lifeless body. He said he was forced by police and education department officials to erase photographs that he asked a fellow villager to take of the toilet that day.

"They told my friend to delete the pictures. He refused but they took his phone and deleted the pictures," he said.

According to City Press, the Kopanes are demanding a payment of R940 000 for emotional trauma and shock, and a further R2m for the grief they suffered.

They are also demanding a sum of R208 454.80 for future medical expenses, funeral costs and loss of earnings.

He said the basic education department showed no remorse for his son's death and had yet to apologise.

"It hurts me. I am still hurt. My son died at their school. They did not even help or talk to us about it," he said.

The department's counsel had argued it was not true that government folded its arms and did nothing to comfort the family.

James, however, said that if there had been a genuine offering by the department it would have been discussed with him as the head of the family, and not via a third party.

The family is being assisted by Section27.

The hearing continues on Wednesday.

Source: News24

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