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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Rosina Komape wept as she recalled her son’s pit toilet death

Chester Makana

A Limpopo mother who is suing the government after her son drowned in a school’s pit toilet broke down and wept as she explained how she discovered her son at Chebeng village three years ago.

Rosina Komape and her family are demanding millions from the Department of Basic Education after the tragic loss of her five year-old son Michael Komape at Mahlodumela Primary School in Chebeng Village, outside Polokwane, on 20 January 2014.

Testifying at the Limpopo High Court, Rosina explained how the department’s officials failed to help her find her son, forcing her to search in every corner until Michael’s friend point her to the dilapidated pit toilet.

During her testimony, it was clear Rosina was still battling to accept her son’s loss when revisiting the tragic scene in the court papers submitted by her counsel Vincent Maleka of Thulamela Chambers.

On January 20, 2014 Michael fell into a pit toilet at Mahlodumela School and drowned in a pool of human faeces. For more than four hours no one knew his whereabouts, school officials called Rosina and said they could not locate her son.

She rushed to the school in search of an answer but still, there was none.

“When I arrived at the school the principal and teachers approached me, I asked them where is my son, they did not respond. I asked if they searched in the toilet, and their response was that we searched in the toilet, he is not there,” said Komape

Hours after she gave up on the search at the school, Michael’s friend who was playing at a local Creche apparently walked back to school, and point at a toilet where his friend drowned.

Rosina told the court that when she drew closer to the toilet she noticed her son’s hand up — a sign that he died calling for rescue.

“My son died looking for help, he raised his hand hoping that someone will come and rescue him, there was no seat in the toilet. The only thing I could see was his hand, the rest of the body was buried under human faeces.

I asked them to pull him out, I was thinking that he could be alive, maybe we could take him to hospital,” she said.

But Rosina and her family had to wait for hours for Emergency Rescue Personnel to arrive at the school situated in the province Capricorn district.

Court had to adjourn when Rosina broke down as her counsel said the emotional and traumatic deaths triggered tears for the traumatized mother.

SECTION27 and some members of the community were clad in white t-shirts with a message that read: “JusticeForMichael”. The advocacy group wants the court to compel the department to provide decent toilet to schools.

The court also heard that the family was so traumatised they had to convert one of their rooms into an in-house toilet as the family is troubled by pit toilets.

Rosina even lost her job and is battling to fend off the fear and trauma her family is going through.

“I lost my child, I lost my job while I was mourning my child’s death’s I couldn’t think straight, I did not know what I was doing.

Now I don’t have source of income, I lost everything my children are now suffering,” adds Rosina.

Today, the site of the school for Rosina and her family represents sorrow and mourning lingering in their minds.

“Whenever I see the school I feel like I am seeing my child,” she adds

“I haven’t seen a person dying in the manner my child died.”

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