Agonising farewell to pit-toilet victim

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THE STAR

Pupils from Mahlodumela Primary School in Limpopo surround the grave of 6-year-old Michael Komape as they pay their final respects at his funeral. Pictures: Moloko Moloto

Limpopo - The pain of seeing the coffin of her young son being lowered into his the grave was unbearable.

The mother of the 6-year-old Grade R pupil who died after falling into a dilapidated pit toilet at a Limpopo school last Monday was overcome by emotion at his funeral on Sunday.

Rosina Komape had to leave the cemetery before her son Michael’s burial ended.

She had initially appeared strong during the funeral service at Chebeng village outside Polokwane.

But her anguish was clear when Michael’s tiny coffin was lowered into the grave. She looked away.

Moments later, she walked towards the grave to sprinkle the coffin with soil, a customary practice believed to bring closure for bereaved families.

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James and Rosina Komape grieve for their son.

THE STAR

It was then that she wept uncontrollably, and was taken home by car.

Tears rolled down behind sunglasses of distraught Education MEC Dikeledi Magadzi.

Michael died after falling into a dilapidated pit latrine at Mahlodumela Primary.

His fellow pupils, wearing uniforms, sent him off by leading the singing of the national anthem.

But while Michael’s family mourned his tragic loss, political parties turned his funeral into a rally.

Members of the ANC, AgangSA and the Economic Freedom Fighters came to the funeral dressed in party colours.

A few ANC members wore T-shirts bearing President Jacob Zuma’s picture and others wore T-shirts with the picture of late ANC stalwart Priscilla Mokaba.

 

Not to be outdone, EFF members also sported their red berets, while Agang provincial leaders distributed T-shirts to mourners.

But a stern representative of diphiri (a community organised group of men who dig graves) ordered male EFF members to take off their berets if they wanted to be allowed into the cemetery.

The man also ordered them to put on their jackets, as is expected from every man, before entering the cemetery.

During the funeral service at Michael’s parents’ home, Agang and EFF members allegedly tried to push for their representatives to be included in the line-up of speakers, according to Education Department spokesman Phuti Seloba.

 

“We refused. They wanted to turn this into a political campaign,” he said.

The executive mayor of Polokwane, Freddy Greaver, lashed out at “opportunism” at the funeral.

“This is not a political event. We are not here for politics,” he told mourners.

Later, in an interview, Greaver reiterated his annoyance with the antics.

“If you want votes you must have programmes,” said Greaver. “I just don’t think it’s sensitive and correct to come here and campaign.”

The secretary of the local ANC branch, Joseph Mantsho, said the ruling party had not organised members to wear party T-shirts.

EFF provincial co-ordinator Jossie Buthane and Agang provincial secretary Johanna Mphogo blamed the government for Michael’s death.

While the DA was not visible at the funeral, party leaders visited the village last week after the tragedy.

moloko.moloto@inl.co.za

The Star


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