JOHANNESBURG, 17 March 2021 – A South African headteacher who made a schoolboy dig through poo in order to retrieve his phone, has been released on bail.
Lubeko Lennox Mgandela, is facing child abuse charges for lowering an 11-year-old pupil by a rope into a pit latrine, to retrieve his phone.
Mgandela, who is 49-years-old, allegedly promised to pay the student, who is an orphan living with his grandmother, the sum of 200 rand (about $14) if he helped retrieve the phone.
The schoolboy has been traumatized by the incident and is unwilling to attend school, according to his grandmother, who says his schoolmates have not stopped mocking him over the incident.
Education officials in the Eastern Cape, where the incident occurred, have suspended Mgandela, describing the incident as “beyond disgrace”.
Fundile Gade, an official with Eastern Cape’s Education Department, promised to visit and apologize to the student and his family.
The schoolboy had to dig through faeces in the pit latrine with his bare hands to find the phone.
During a brief arraignment in court, Mgandela was not asked to plead.
His trial has been postponed until next May 27 to allow time for investigations to be completed.
In December 2019, a South African appeals court granted $70,000 in damages to the family of a five-year-old schoolboy, Michael Komape, who fell into a pit latrine in his school and drowned.
Describing the death of Michael Komape as “the most appalling and undignified death”, the judge in the case ordered South Africa’s Department of Basic Education to pay the damages for emotional shock.
Following the incident, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the country was going to shutdown all pit toilets in 4,500 schools. It did not.