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