MEC for Social Development, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza, with Disebo Dhlamini, the mother of 8-month-old Baby Naledi, who was burnt by boiling water at a city nursery school. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/ANA
Pretoria - An eight-month-old is recovering from third-degree burns to her stomach and hands after allegedly knocking over a kettle of boiling water at Incredible Minds Nursery School in Rietfontein, Pretoria.

On Tuesday, the voice of her mother, Disebo Dhlamini, trembled and tears rolled down her face as Baby Naledi cried in pain.

Dhlamini held the girl's bandaged body carefully as emotions played out on her face.

“It is heartbreaking for me to watch her in so much pain,” she said.

MEC for Social Development, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza, visited the family on Tuesday, and Dhlamini told her she was angry about what had happened to her child.

Mayathula-Khoza said she visited the family to check on the condition of the baby, and to comfort the family.

“The department decided that we should visit the family of Baby Naledi. The family is traumatised, especially the mother. Why keep a kettle with boiling water where there are children?” the MEC asked.

A mother wheels her child past Incredible Minds Nursery School, where Baby Naledi suffered severe burns.

Mayathula-Khoza said they had found the school to be negligent in the incident, in addition to not being registered.

But its owner, Wim van Rensburg, said the registration had been lodged last year and he was still waiting for final certification.

He added: “Kettles were not supposed to be placed on the floors. The teacher admitted to being negligent and she and the assistant were both at the hearing three days after the incident. They were found guilty of negligence, and were fired.”

Van Rensburg said Baby Naledi had been put on the floor by her teacher after a nappy change when she crawled to the kettle and pulled it, tipping the boiling water on to her body.

“Her nappy was changed and the teacher said she was supposed to put her back in her cot. Instead, she put her on the floor. And that is when the baby crawled and pulled the kettle,” Van Rensburg said.

Dhlamini said she had just knocked off from work and was walking to her car when she got the call that her baby had been burnt.

She called a friend and they rushed there.

When the pair arrived at the school, she hoped it was nothing major.

However, she then heard the piercing screams of her baby girl.

“I rushed into the room to find my baby’s skin had turned pinkish. I ran back outside in disbelief I went in again not believing it was really my baby,” Dhlamini recalled.

She said because of the shock she did not ask a lot of questions as she wanted to rush her baby to hospital.

She remembered hearing the owner telling her he had been telling teachers not to place kettles in the classroom.

“You could see that the other children were traumatised, as were other parents who were there to fetch their children.

"As the ambulance that had been called had not arrived, we decided to use my friend’s car and rushed to the nearest hospital.”

They drove to Moot Healthcare Hospital where they discovered there was no emergency admission department, she said.

As they panicked and wondered what to do next, the paramedics they had been waiting for called and arrived at the hospital to take them to the Muelmed Mediclinic, which has an emergency section.

“I asked a paramedic how bad the burns were and he said third degree, and that broke me. To think my baby was feeling that much pain shattered me,” she said.

“It should have not happened. They were negligent.”

Mayathula-Khoza said the department would provide ongoing support to the family.

Pretoria News