UGIE: The child was lowered into the toilet to fetch a cellphone and promised the pupil R200.
The Luthuthu Primary School principal in Eastern Cape has been suspended and charged with attempted murder for allegedly lowering an 11-year-old pupil into a pit toilet to retrieve a dropped cellphone.
It is alleged that the principal promised him R200 if he could recover the phone.
The Eastern Cape Education MEC, Mr Fundile Gade said, as the sector we learnt with shame the ill-treament wherein the learner was allegedly made to draw a fallen phone from human waste in a school toilet.
‘‘Upon learning about this, and having discussed this with all sections of department, we have served the principal with a letter of suspension pending investigation on the matter.
‘‘Secondly, as the department, we have dispatched our Labour Relations officials to investigate the matter with tight and strict deadlines for the report back,’’ Mr Gade said in the statement.
MEC Gade is expected to visit the school and the family this week Thursday. The statement revealed that he will ‘”apologise for the terrible and untoward behaviour displayed by this principal”.
Furthermore, the department has stated that we always believe this behaviour shows a lack of respect for our children and eroded the moral standing of a parent to do such.
‘‘This is because this South African Schools Act regards as ‘in loco parents’ [which means when simply translated], an educator is a parent who is with the child at the school. Therefore, we really are embarrassed by such behaviour that seeks to destroy the noble profession of teaching,’’ statement further said.
Meanwhile, the 49-year-old man appeared in the Nqanqarha (Maclear) Magistrates court on Tuesday for attempted murder.
In a statement issued by South African Police Service (Saps), Captain Khaya Tonjeni said, “It is alleged the suspect made an 11-year-old child undress and enter a toilet that was full of human faeces.”
“The child was allegedly tied with a rope on the upper body and lowered in the toilet pit by other learners in an effort to retrieve a cellphone that fell into the pit latrine,” added Mr Tonjeni.
This is after a video circulated on social media describing an incident where the principal allegedly coerced a grade 4 learner into retrieving his cellphone from a dirty pit toilet. The incident was brought to the attention of staff and teachers on 8 March.
Mr Gade further stated that “It is beyond disgrace that such an incident of inhumanity can be claimed against a school principal who we view as a parent and mentor to everyone in that community.”
MrGade said the department is working closely with the Department of Social Development to offer the learner and his family support.
“Counselling has been organized for the child and all other learners who have affected by the act as it is very critical in this stage,” Mr Gade concluded.