Principal apologises for pit toilet death

Maphalane Mailula has apologised to the family of five-year-old Michael Komape.

Maphalane Mailula has apologised to the family of five-year-old Michael Komape. Picture: Masego Rahlaga/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The principal of the Mahlodumela Primary School in Limpopo where five-year-old Michael Komape died after falling into a pit toilet has apologised to his family.

A pit toilet at a Limpopo school. Picture: Tara Meaney/EWN.

The grade R pupil had gone to the toilet during break time last Monday and didn't return to class.

A funeral service was held for him at his home in Limpopo on Sunday.

Questions are being asked as to why Komape's teacher didn't follow up on his disappearance until a few hours later.

But principal Maphalane Mailula explained to the crowd gathered at his funeral that they assumed he had gone home for the day.

The family of Michael Komape have described him as a good boy who respected his elders. Picture: Masego Rahlaga/EWN.

She apologised to his family saying they too are deeply hurt by the incident.

"I've been teaching at the school since 1979 and I've never seen anything like this. To the Komape family we are sorry and deeply hurt by the incident."

But Komape's mother Rosina says she is disappointed with the teacher tasked with looking after him.

It was only the fourth day of his schooling career when Komape died.

His mother Rosina was escorted from the gravesite as she was unable to contain her grief.

She says she is hurt by her son's teacher and the school's slow response to finding the boy after he went missing.

"I took my son to school trusting that he would be looked after and then I receive a call asking me where he was. She failed to look after my little boy."

A tombstone bearing his smiling face was unveiled at the end of the ceremony which was supported by hundreds of community members, friends and government officials.

Pupils and staff members at the school have been receiving counselling since the incident last week.

Meanwhile, 18 flushing toilets will be installed at the school following the incident.