File picture: Bongiwe Mchunu/Independent Media

Johannesburg - Legal advocacy group Section27 on Monday said while it welcomed parts of the judgment in the Michael Komape case, it was extremely "disappointed" that the Komape family's suffering "has been insufficiently recognised and acknowledged".

Earlier, the High Court in Polokwane dismissed a claim for general and constitutional damages by Section27, on behalf of the family, over the death of Michael, 5, who drowned in a pit toilet at his school near Polokwane on January 20, 2014.

In his ruling, Judge Gerrit Muller ordered the department to provide it with a list of all the schools still using pit toilets and to indicate the period required to replace these toilets. 

The department was also ordered to supply to and install "a sufficient number of toilets which are easily accessible" and "safe and secure" at these schools.

Michael's siblings, Maria and Onica Komape, were also awarded R6 000 each for medical treatment.

Section27 in a statement reacted with mixed reaction to Judge Gerrit Muller's ruling. 

"While we welcome the structural interdict to provide adequate and safe sanitation for pupils in the Limpopo Province, we are at the same time extremely disappointed that the suffering of the Komape family and the circumstances of Michael ‘s death has been insufficiently recognised and acknowledged. 

"It is our view that this is a missed opportunity for developing the law in respect of constitutional damages. The failure to award damages in this case stands in contrast to the damages that were awarded by the retired Deputy Chief Justice Mosenke to the families of the Life Esidimeni victims for the callous treatment of the victims in that case. 

Section27 added that it "is still studying the judgment but has taken further instructions from the Komape family in respect of this [and] "anticipate that we will be appealing the damages aspect of the judgment in the Supreme Court of Appeal".