Maverick Citizen


Probe reveals Cradock child was ‘accidentally’ trapped in classroom for three days – Eastern Cape MEC

Probe reveals Cradock child was ‘accidentally’ trapped in classroom for three days – Eastern Cape MEC
Masonwabe Mapolisa (5) was locked in a classroom during freezing weather at a Cradock school for three days. (Picture: Supplied)

The MEC for Community Safety in the Eastern Cape, Xolile Nqatha, has told the provincial legislature that an investigation into the circumstances that led to a five-year-old Cradock boy being locked in a school classroom for a weekend in May has found there was no foul play.

The child, Masonwabe Mapolisa, was reported missing on Friday, 12 May, and was only found three days later, on Monday, when the caretaker at JA Ncaca Primary School unlocked the classroom.

The MEC for Community Safety in the Eastern Cape, Xolile Nqatha, said the probe into Mapolisa’s disappearance concluded that it was an accident and that there was “no foul play”.

After spending the weekend in the locked classroom in Lingelihle, Cradock, Mapolisa had to be airlifted to Dora Nginza Hospital in Nelson Mandela Bay for treatment. When he was found, he was covered in paint.

The classroom where he was trapped is not part of the main school complex.

Nqatha said teachers at the school were questioned and “made statements to the fact that the child left the school with transport”.

“No person could account for the whereabouts of the child and only on Monday 15 May, the child was found in the classroom. The child was then taken for medical examination and no foul play was discovered. The conclusion was that the child was accidentally locked in the classroom,” Nqatha told the legislature. 

While Nqatha said the police found no foul play, he suggested investigations were ongoing and that once concluded, the National Prosecuting Authority would have to decide whether further steps were needed.

The MEC for Social Development, Bukiwe Fanta, said they were not approached by the education department to offer counselling to the boy. 

Despite weeks of phone calls and countless messages from Daily Maverick, the Eastern Cape Department of Education has ignored all requests for an update on its internal investigations.

The child’s family indicated on Monday that they would approach the Cradock offices of the education department on Wednesday to find out what was happening with the investigation.

One of Mapolisa’s relatives, Sandiswa Mwajari, said they wanted clarity on the department’s investigation. 

“So far, we do not know anything,” she said. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    Did no one think to check the school when he was found to be missing? Weird…the last place he was seen should have been the first place they looked!

  • Marianne Scholtz says:

    Nothing much said about the teachers – where were they that day? Who was the last one holding the keys to that classroom? It was a Friday so everyone was in a hurry to leave. Who checked who got onto the transport? Did they do a roll call? As a former teacher, I find this all so worrying. The person I am most concerned for is the poor child – what a trauma to have to deal with for the rest of one’s life and nobody in authority compassionate enough to offer desperately needed counselling and some ‘warmth’. Just not good enough at all.

    • Gerrie Pretorius says:

      The teachers and department do not care. They are just following their anc masters in the ruling party. There is no compassion for ‘their people’ and no integrity, so there is no shame.

  • Hilary Morris says:

    The depth of the “who cares” attitude of the E Cape Education department is staggering. Or not? Probably par for the course. The terror this poor child must have experienced is horrendous. It surely is not possible to lock in a child without knowing it – and then claiming he was seen leaving? “With transport” nogal.

  • Joe Public says:

    I dread to think what that poor kid must have been feeling/ thinking that night and the following nights being all alone and left stranded by people meant to take care of you. Did the person locking up not look inside the room to see if anyone was there? Totally unnacceptable! They need a serious dressing down and then dismissal.

  • Ian McGill says:

    I smell a cover-up. He was covered in paint? Searched for and not found? Smells sinister.

  • Katharine Ambrose says:

    So he was locked in but he was on transport and when found he was covered in paint? I can just see it unfolding. The teachers rushed away for the weekend and absolutely no one watched who got on that transport. Maybe his classmates can tell us what really went on in that uncaring excuse for a school. Why did no one thoroughly check all the buildings? This stinks of negligence.

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