Rafeek Shah, MPL
DA KZN Alternate Spokesperson on Education
The Democratic Alliance has called for an urgent enquiry by KZN’s education department into the death of an 8 year old boy, allegedly at the hands of his teacher, after he was punched in the sternum.
The incident took place at Mnamatha Primary School in the Pinetown area towards the end of March. The child, Zolani Andile Gwala, passed away on 4th April 2014.
According to the boy’s father, he came home complaining of chest pain. The next day both parents, along with the child, went to see the school’s Headmaster. By then the child was in severe pain and had begun vomiting. The Headmaster advised them to take the boy to a doctor, who had him admitted to RK Khan Hospital in Chatsworth. He passed away a few days later. The cause of death is listed as ‘under investigation’.
The parents informed the school headmaster of the demise of the child. He immediately fired the male teacher responsible for the assault.
The DA welcomes the Headmaster’s swift actions. However we are extremely disturbed that there does not seem to be any formal enquiry underway by the department into this tragic incident.
This is completely unacceptable. Not only has a young life been snuffed out, allegedly by a person charged with his care, but the alleged perpetrator has not been held to account and will in all likelihood simply move on to another teaching post in the province.
While it has been established that the accused was hired by the Governing Body of the School this in no way absolves the Department of Education from any responsibility whatsoever, since all Schools in the Province fall under its jurisdiction.
The DA has also learned that, shockingly, the only assistance the Department has offered the family to date is a food parcel and R5 000 towards funeral expenses. Considering the emotional trauma and expense they have suffered this sum is entirely inappropriate. Some further form of compensation must be afforded this family. The loss of their son – who had no previous health issues – as both a potential breadwinner and a general support to his parents’ in their old age cannot be measured.
The boys’ parents have since opened a case at the Inchanga Police Station – Case number 1504/ 2014.
The DA demands an explanation from MEC Nkonyeni. More importantly we expect her to announce a full enquiry. The facts must be determined and the appropriate action taken.