By Kaya 959 News
An Eastern Cape principal is in hot water after a shocking incident that saw one of his pupils being lowered into a pit toilet.
The primary school principal allegedly made the 11-year-old boy search for a smartphone that had dropped into the latrine.
A community member detailed the incident in a video shared on social media.
The man said the boy was given gloves and a rope was tied around him while he was lowered by other learners.
The principal allegedly picked the boy because he was of a small build.
The community member, who spoke in Xhosa, said the boy was traumatised by the incident.
The phone was not found.
Counselling provided for the pupil
Education officials are investigating the incident. The principal has been served with a letter of suspension.
The principal is also facing an attempted murder charge.
Education officials will help the boy receive counselling. He was reportedly too ashamed to return to school after being mocked by his peers.
But his grandmother encouraged him to be “strong”.
“It has been hard for my grandchild to go to school because he has been laughed at by other pupils,” she told GroundUp.
Nearly 4,000 SA schools use pit toilets
According to a Department of Basic Education report, close to 4,000 public schools still use pit latrines.
Minister Angie Motshegka said her department aims to eradicate pit latrines by 2022.
The minister made the comments in a written reply to a parliament in August 2020.
Many schools, particularly those in rural areas, do not have access to proper water supply.
Children drown in school pit toilets
South Africa has had several cases of school children drowning in pit toilets.
Five-year-old Lumka Mketwa died after falling into a pit latrine in the Eastern Cape in 2018.
Her body was found one day after she fell in the pit.
“The whole village was looking until the morning. Some people slept at the school, hoping the child might come back during the night, but it didn’t happen,” a Bizana resident told the Mail & Guardian.
Police search dogs were able to locate her body.
In 2014, another five-year-old, Michael Komape, lost his life when he fell inside his Limpopo school’s pit toilet.
Education rights groups have slammed government’s slow response to eradicating pit toilets in the country.
Many schools have been waiting for years for proper toilets.
Today we hear a learner fell into 1 of these holes! Open air pit latrines at Lutholi Junior School, Eastern Cape, photo taken +- 3 weeks ago. Unlawful & immoral! Parents have marched to @ecdoeza.“Toilets” in this state since at least 2016. When will government #FixOurSchools?! pic.twitter.com/NhF4qjEUTd
— Equal Education (@equal_education) September 11, 2019