Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has dismissed a compensation of R100 000 to the family of Michael Komape who died in a pit latrine toilet while a Grade R pupil at a Limpopo primary school more than five years ago.

The ruling was made by Judge Gerrit Muller of the High Court in Limpopo in April 2018. 

Outraged by the decision, the family lodged an urgent appeal to Judge Muller challenging his decision not to grant them the R3 million constitutional damages claim for the loss of their child and the psychological effect in had on all his family members. Judge Muller granted them permission to petition the SCA in June 2018.

The Komape family's perseverance paid off on Wednesday when a full bench of the SCA ruled against the ruling of the High Court in Limpopo.

In his unanimous ruling, Judge Lorimer Leach said the appeal of the Komapes had succeeded and said the family in respect of the claim for emotional shock and grief, Michael’s parents, Rosina Komape and Maloti Komape were each awarded R 350 000. 

Michael’s elder siblings, Mokibelo Komape and Lucas Komape were each awarded R200 000.

The minor three children were each awarded R100 000. The SCA further order the Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga and Limpopo MEC for Education to pay R6000 each for the future medical treatment of the minor children.

The Department of Basic Education and Limpopo Basic Education were ordered to pay the legal costs of the Komapes. The SCA ordered that such costs should include disbursements incurred by two counsel who appeared pro bone for the Komape in travelling and being accommodated in Bloemfontein in order to present the appeal. 

The overall costs amount to R1.4 million.

In overturning the R100 000 compensation, Judge Leach expressed shock that the High Court dismissed their damages claim despite Motshekga and the Limpopo Education department's concessions relating to the Komapes emotional suffering.

“It is somewhat startling to say the least that the High Court dismissed Claim A for emotional trauma and shock. It also dismissed the claim for grief in Claim B but, on the alternative in Claim B (i.e the claim for constitutional damages) also somewhat startlingly as it was a relief that had not been asked for, it issued a structural interdict. The High Court ordered the Education Department to supply and install sufficient number of toilets for school in the country for the use of children.

Political Bureau