After four years of grief and trauma, the Limpopo High court has dismissed the case brought against the Limpopo department of education by advocacy group Section 27 representing the family of a 5-year-old Michael Komape who died when he fell into a pit toilet
The incident took place in 2014 at a Mahlodumela Primary school in Chebeng village outside Polokwane
The Komape family with the help of Section 27 were suing government money mounting to over R3 million for grief, trauma, and constitutional damages
Judge Gerriet Muller delivered judgement on Monday 23 April 2018 dismissing compensation for general and constitutional damage claims.
Judge Muller dismissed all claims citing that since the incident, there has been some sanitation infrastructure improvements in schools across the province.
Judge Muller further gave an order to the department of Basic education to give an audit report and a list of how many schools still use pit toilets and a detailed plan on how they will eradicate them.
However, Muller has ruled that compensation worth of R6 000 for counselling be given to Michael’s two siblings.
Speaking on behalf of the family, an education attorney form section Shaniece Linderboom said they are disappointed at the judgement.
“One of the things we had hoped to get for the family was compensation for general and constitutional damages, but they were all dismissed” said Linderboom.
“A structural interdict was put in place to ensure that schools are equipped with safe toilets” Added Linderboom.
She said that they are studying the judgment and once they have consulted with the family, they will appeal the judgment.
Meanwhile spokesperson for the department of basic education Elijah Mhlanga said they are happy the case is over, and their plan will be working on ensuring schools do have proper sanitation facilities to ensure safety of learners and teachers.
Elijah Mhlanga said they have noted the order given to the department by the court that it must give a report of how many schools still have pit toilets.
Mhlanga said as the department, they will comply with the court order and put timeframes on when the work of eradicating pit toilets will start and finish.
“A process is underway to identify those schools and a plan on how those pit toilets will be eradicated” Said Mhlanga.