Court hears school got donations on dead boy’s name

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The civil trial of the death of 5-year-old learner, Michael Komape, has been postponed to 1st February 2018 for closing arguments at the Polokwane High Court.

Michael fell into a dilapidated pit toilet and died at Mahlodumela Primary School in 2014.

The state wrapped its case on Tuesday.

Michael’s family is suing the Basic Education Department about R3 million with the assistance of human rights organisation, Section 27.

The trial has been going on for more than two weeks and the court has heard testimonies from about 13 witnesses.

During Friday’s proceedings, Mahlodumela Primary School’s former Principal Maphalane Malothane continued testifying under cross examination.

Malothane, who is now retired, has confirmed that the school accepted donations in Michael’s honour without informing the family because of a strained relationship that developed after the incident.

She  added that she does not regard the Komape family as humble after they had accused her and the teachers of having caused Michael’s death. She says the sour relationship is the reason she did not disclose to the family that desks and technological devices were donated to the school in Michael’s name.

The Komapes were also not told about a painting of the child’s face on the school wall, which was unveiled in July 2014.

Malothane says she did not see it necessary to involve them.

The family’s legal representative, Advocate Vincent Maleka also questioned Malothane about the discovery of Michael’s body on the day of the incident.

Malothane has admitted that they never looked inside the four pit toilets until his mother, Rosina Komape, urged them to.

Malothane has also testified that she did nothing to help Rosinah when the woman collapsed after seeing her son’s hand sticking out of the pit.

Meanwhile, Section 27 says the Education Department has agreed to settle part of the claim made by the Komape family.

The organisation says the department will pay about R135 000thousand rand to the family for special damages. The settlement agreement was reached on the 16th of this month. The amount covers funeral expenses, psychologists fees and loss of income in respect of Michael’s mother, who lost her job after his death. The lawsuit is now dealing with a R900 000 claim for pain and suffering, as well as a R2 million constitutional damages claim.

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