Former principal’s testimony supports the Komape family’s case against the state. By Ciaran Ryan for GROUNDUP.
First published by GroundUp
The former principal of Mahlodumelo School in Limpopo, Maphalane Malothane, testified in court on Monday that several appeals were made to the Limpopo Department of Education for funding for new toilets to replace the “sinking” toilets that caused the death of Michael Komape in 2014.
Every appeal for funds, starting in 2004 and continuing virtually every year until 2009, went unanswered. The school eventually decided to use its own funds to build new toilets, she told the Polokwane High Court.
Michael Komape drowned in a pit latrine at the school on 20 January 2014. His body was discovered hours later by his mother. His hand was protruding from a pool of human faeces.
The state had called on Malothane to buttress its case against a nearly R3-million damages claim from the family. But Malothane turned out to be a star witness for the family.
Under cross-examination by Advocate Vincent Maleka for the family, Malothane was asked about her repeated requests for funding to replace toilets that were damaged and “sinking”.
“What happened to your first application [for funds] to the department in 2004?” Maleka asked.
“Nothing,” replied Malothane.
“And the second application?”
The same happened virtually every year until 2009.
“Is this how the department dealt with you?” asked Maleka. “By ignoring you?”
“Yes,” replied Malothane.
It was only after Michael’s death that the department took steps to build new toilets.
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