Michael Komape’s family rejects State’s claim that his death was an accident

Witness: Pit-toilet that Michael Komape died in was 17 years old
Image: Pixaby

Chester Makana

The civil hearing by a Limpopo family exposed how the government allowed more rural pupils to use more than 20-year-old pit toilet.

More than two witnesses told the Limpopo High Court that Mahlodumela Primary school’s toilet where Michael Komape fell and died were used as far as 1997.

Lucas, Michael’s elder brother on Thursday revealed that the toilet where his brother was found drowning in the pool of faeces were dilapidated even in 2006.

The visibly upset Lucas joined his family in court on Thursday, testifying in the civil litigation against Basic Education department following Michael’s death almost three years ago.

He blamed failure by Basic Education Department for continuous existence and usage of dilapidated toilets, saying had they ensure toilets were in good condition his brother would be alive.

Lucas and the department’s counsel Simon Phaswane engaged in a heated debate during cross-examination when the defendant pleaded that Michael’s death was accident.

However, an emotional Lucas passionately rejected that it was an accident.

It was not an accident, it was deliberate because those toilets were dilapidated for far too long, adds Lucas.

“If they had maintained their toilets no one would have fallen into a toilet,” argued Lucas, during cross examination by Phaswane.

Lucas also told the court that after Michael’s death he saw his siblings drifting apart, losing apetite to return to Mahlodumela Primary School.

He said his siblings who are still at primary school where his brother died had since developed reluctance to go to school after Michael’s deaths.

Lucas was at high school when Michael began his primary education journey that was short-lived.

He was informed that his younger brother Michael has died, and his body was trapped under Mahlodumela Primary’s toilet.

After that he proceeded to the school, only to find his mother in tears, while his father James was helpless and sitting near the toilet.

“When I get to the school I saw my mother crying,” he recalled.

He said she pointed at the direction of the toilet, but could not see his departing brother as he was barred by police.

Lucas’s parents are demanding that government should be held responsible for the death of his younger brother.

The family argues that they have suffered trauma, and psychological distress as a result of the department of Education’s negligence.

Lucas told the court that that day was the turning point of his life and he observed his siblings life change for the worst.

“Everywhere I go in the village people were talking about a child who died in the toilet, it traumatised me, and I did not want to talk or hear about it,” said Lucas.

His testimony was similar to that of his sister Lydia Komape who testified that she was in disbelief.

“I could not believe that he was dead,” Lydia.



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