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School fingered in lawnmower death

Johannesburg - A Soweto primary school breached safety policy when a Grade R pupil died after being run over by a lawnmower, the Gauteng education department said on Friday.

The finding followed an investigation by the department into the accident in February, spokeswoman Phumla Sekhonyane said.

The front entrance to the Digabane Primary School,where a five year old learner died after being run over by a lawnmower on the school premises. File picture: Antoine de Ras. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

“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.”

Proper procedures were followed in reporting the matter, but there were “some general weaknesses in how safety and maintenance matters were handled”.

On February 11, five-year-old Avuyile Indiphile Baninzi was run over by the Dikgabane Primary School's industrial lawnmower operated by the school's general assistant.

He was declared dead on arrival at hospital.

Sekhonyane said the report indicated Baninzi and other pupils were playing on the school grounds during break-time while the general assistant was cutting grass in preparation for a sports day.

“It was against school conduct that grass would be cut during break-time when learners were on the grounds,” it was stated in the report.

“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, learners are not at risk of injury.”

According to the report, child supervision was not adequate on the day and the teacher on duty should have taken “extra preventative measures against imminent danger”.

Sekhonyane said it was reported that the teacher kept chasing pupils away from the lawn mower and allowed the general assistant to cut the grass. This put the children in danger.

Sekhonyane said the report was shared with Baninzi's family and the school governing body. Disciplinary action would be taken against officials who had breached the school safety policy, she said.

The department was in negotiations with Baninzi's family about liability.

A police investigation into the matter was continuing.

Sapa

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