Action against school over pupil’s lawnmower death

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Parents Sabelo Makeke and Andiswe Baninzi mourn the loss of their child. Photo: Timothy Bernard

Johannesburg - The Gauteng Department of Education will take disciplinary action against Dikgabane Primary School after it found the school guilty of negligence following the death of one of its pupils in February.

Avuyile Indiphile Baninzi died two months ago after being run over by the school’s industrial lawnmower.

The incident occurred during the lunch break at the Soweto primary school. Baninzi and his fellow pupils were playing on the school grounds very close to where the general assistant was cutting grass when the incident happened.

The five-year-old suffered multiple lacerations and died before the ambulance reached Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital.

On Friday, the education department released a report in which it found that the school safety policy had been breached and that there was negligence on the part of certain officials at the school.

“Based on oral interviews and documentary evidence, the investigation found that the school safety policy was breached and that there was negligence on the part of certain officials at the school,” said Phumla Sekhonyane, a spokesperson for the Gauteng Education Department.

The department’s investigation looked into a number of circumstances surrounding the death of the pupil. These included whether the generic school safety policy or Dikgabane’s school safety policy was breached, the conduct of officials in handling the matter, whether the incident was reported timeously to the SAPS, the district, and the head office as required by the department’s policy, whether the department was liable, and whether any counselling was provided to the affected parties.

Sekhonyane said that while the report indicated that proper procedures were followed in reporting the matter to the district, the head office and the police, it did point out some general weaknesses in how safety and maintenance matters were handled.

The report found that the school safety policy had been breached on the day of the incident. It also found that it was against school conduct that grass would be cut during break-time when pupils were on the grounds.

The report from the investigation further states that officials at the school should have taken the necessary precautionary steps to ensure that in dealing with the pressure of having the grounds ready on time, pupils were not at risk of injury.

Sekhonyane said that the report had been shared with the family of the dead boy, as well as members of the school governing body at Dikgabane Primary School.

Sekhonyane said that the department would take disciplinary action against the officials who had breached the school safety policy, and that the department was also in negotiations with the family of the dead boy around issues of liability.

The police investigation into this matter continues.

Saturday Star


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