December 18, 2019

South African court grants damages over boy’s latrine death

South African court grants damages over boy’s latrine death


South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa

South Africa’s appeals court has granted damages to the family of a five-year-old boy who fell into a pit latrine at school and drowned in 2014.

Judges ordered the Department of Basic Education to pay Michael Komape’s family just over 1million rand ($70,000; £53,000) for emotional shock.

The department had denied responsibility for Michael’s death.

The tragedy caused outrage in South Africa, and drew attention to the lack of proper toilets in many schools.

Wednesday’s ruling overturned the decision of a lower court, which dismissed the family’s case last year.

The appeals’ court, however, rejected the family’s demand for 3million rand ($208m), ruling instead that Michael’s parents should receive 350,000 rand ($24,000) each and his three siblings 100,000 rands ($7,000) each.

Michael was a pupil at the Mahlodumela Primary School in the northern Limpopo province. He drowned after going to the toilet on January 20, 2014.

His parents, James and Rosina, sued the minister of basic education after their son died.

Human rights group Section27, which fought the campaign to achieve justice for Michael’s family, said in a statement that it welcomed the ruling.

An estimated 4,500 schools out of a total of 25,000 in South Africa have pit latrine toilets.

After another incident last year where a five-year-old boy drowned after falling into a latrine, President Cyril Ramaphosa vowed that South Africa would eradicate pit latrines in state schools within two years.

“This is an initiative that will save lives and restore the dignity of tens of thousands of our nation’s children,” Mr. Ramaphosa said. (BBC)