Family seeks answers following death of Grade R learners at Mpumalanga primary school

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The family of Grade R learner Melokuhle Mbonani is devastated after their five-year-old daughter died after a school gate fell on top of her in Kwaggafontein A in Mpumalanga last Thursday.

The Grade R learner at Matjeni Primary School was then rushed to the nearest local clinic where she succumbed to her injuries.

The family is seeking answers as to what transpired before her untimely death.

A relative who spoke on behalf of the Mbonani family, Thuli Sindane, says the child’s death came as a shock.

Sindane says they sent their child to get an education at a place they deemed safe for her, only for her to come back in a coffin.

“One of the learners came here running and told us that they were looking for us at the school. She told us that Melokuhle was hit by a gate. My aunt rushed to the school. When she got to the school she discovered that the child was taken to the local clinic. One of the teachers told us to go to the clinic. When my aunt arrived at the clinic, unfortunately, she found that it was already too late.”

“When I also went to the clinic, I found my aunt crying. When I went outside the clinic I found the principal and one member of the School Governing Body (SGB) standing outside. I asked them what happened and they told me that our Melokuhle was hit by the gate. What I don’t understand is that the principal says the child was hit by a gate and then another teacher told me that while she was sitting she heard screams from learners telling her a child was hit by a gate. After that, they tried to lift the gate on top of her,” says Sindane.

Sindane says after the tragedy they went to the school to inspect for themselves.

“We went to the school after hearing people saying the gate was pushed and it normally goes off the railing. We went and inspected the place and people told us that it’s a norm that the gate falls off the railing. We pushed the gate ourselves and it came off the railing and it fell to the ground. We have it on video,” added Sindane.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in the area accused the school management of being negligent about learners’ safety.

The EFF’s Rendy Mokoena alleges that this is not the first incident where the gate fell on a learner.

Mokoena says, “We came here to seek answers from the principal. And we came to the principal and the principal was so arrogant until we went and met the family. The family told us that their incident is not the first incident and that this baby who was crushed by gate two survived and did not die. Unfortunately, this one died. We are here for justice and justice must be served and it seems like this principal is not taking care of the school.”

“The SGB has failed the school and has failed the parents. The SGB is not taking care of this school which means they are reckless. It seems like it was a long time since it was like that,” says Mokoena.

The family says they are waiting for post-mortem results and then will map a way forward.

Melokuhle will be laid to rest this week and a prayer service was held at the school.

Attempts to get a comment from the Mpumalanga Department of Basic Education were unsuccessful.

Reporting by Zanele Sibiya