South African court grants damages over boy’s pit latrine death

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Wednesday’s ruling overturned a decision of a lower court which dismissed the family’s case in 2018./ Getty Images

South Africa’s appeals court has granted damages to the family of a five-year-old boy who died after he fell into a pit latrine in 2014.

Judges ordered the Department of Basic Education to pay Michael Komape’s family just over 1m rand ($70,000) for emotional shock.

The department has denied responsibility for Michael’s death.

The schoolboy’s death caused massive uproar in South Africa and drew attention to the lack of proper toilets in many schools.

Wednesday’s ruling overturned a decision of a lower court which dismissed the family’s case in 2018.

The appeals’ court however rejected the family’s demand for 3m rand ($208m), ruling instead that Michael’s parents should receive 350,000 rand ($24,000) each and his three siblings 100,000 rand ($7,000) each.

Michael was a pupil at the Mahlodumela Primary School in the northern Limpopo province. He drowned in a toilet after it collapsed while he was inside.

President Cyril Ramaphosa last year pledged to eradicate pit latrines in state schools within two years.

“This is an initiative that will save lives and restore the dignity of tens of thousands of our nation’s children,” he said.

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