School slammed for lawnmower death

A five-year-old boy was killed by an industrial lawnmower at his primary school in Soweto.

A five-year-old boy was killed by an industrial lawnmower at his primary school in Soweto. Picture: FILE/Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Eyewitness News understands a Soweto primary school has been found guilty of breaching safety policies after a grade R pupil was run over and killed by a lawnmower earlier this year.

Five-year-old Avuyile Indiphile Baninzi died after being hit by the industrial lawnmower at the Dikgabane Primary School in February.

The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) has finalised its investigation into the matter.

It found the school's safety policy was flouted as workers rushed to prepare the grounds for a sports event.

"The investigation found that the school safety policy was breached and that there was negligence on the part of certain officials," the GDE said in a statement.

The probe further found it was against school policy to cut grass during breaks when learners were on the fields.

The GDE says adequate supervision was not provided, with the teacher on duty failing to properly ensure pupil safety.

"Officials on ground duty are expected to stay alert and in full view of the actions of learners, especially those of delicate age."

In an article published shortly after the incident, eNCA quoted the school's general assistant Kgatiso Kodisang, who was operating the lawnmower, as saying he was devastated by the incident.

"I apologise to the family and ask for their forgiveness," he said. "I regard these schoolchildren as mine."

However, he reportedly refused to share any details of how it happened.

The department says Kodisang should have been more careful.

"The investigation also found the general assistant should have also foreseen the danger and not placed the lives of learners at risk based on the fact that he had pressure to ensure that the grounds are ready on time."

Disciplinary action will now be taken against officials who breached the safety policy.

The GDE is in negotiations with the boy's family around issues of liability.