South Africa News

Mom wants justice after 8-year-old son dies at initiation school

The tearful mother and grandmother of eight-year-old Thabang Sedutla, who died at the Limpopo koma (initiation) school on Tuesday, wants the owner of the school to pay.

The family told the publication on Wednesday they knew nothing about Section 12 (1) of the Limpopo Initiation School Governing Act of 2016.

The Act stipulates only children from the age of 12 and above may be enrolled at koma schools.

It further states that school principals must get the parents to fill in a consent form for their children to be enrolled.

“I can confirm that my son is eight years of age. I can also confirm that his younger brother has graduated from a local koma school three or four years ago,” said the deceased’s mother, Unice Sedutla.

Sedutla said her son left home with his brother and uncle to the school on Monday.

Little did she know that was the last time she would see her child alive.

“It is pure lies that my son was epileptic. His problem was that when he gets emotional, he often lost balance and experience breathing problems.

“I was told by the surgeon, who operated him, that he was not well. But the next thing I heard he was admitted at the Kgapane hospital.

“What baffled me is that I had to learn from the media that he has died,” Sedutla said through her tears.

“Neighbours blamed me for not telling them while I had no idea what was going on. I was told by police officers a day later that my son was dead. That is a grave mistake made by the department of cooperative governance and the school owner.

“I am heartbroken. I feel naked and empty. I am devastated that I don’t have anything in my purse to bury my son because I am not working.

“What have I done to suffer like this in this, world? Oh Lord, please give me a signal as to at which door should I knock to get help to give my son a decent funeral,” she pleaded.

The mother also said she wanted the koma school owner to bankroll the funeral of her son. “Otherwise I am taking legal steps,” she said, crying uncontrollably.

Limpopo provincial cooperative governance, human settlements, and traditional affairs MEC Basikop Makamu said: “We have moved to suspend the initiation school caregivers and close down the school.

“We are heartbroken that a child’s life had to be cut short because of people who ignore the regulations which governs our traditional passage to manhood,” Makamu said.

“We are calling on all koma school owners and principals to adhere to the Act that governs these schools because if not, more lives would be lost.”

Makamu warned that those who do not follow the prescribed policy will face the harshest might of the law.

A fortnight ago, Makamu said his department has declared itself a no-death koma school season this year.

He said although there were large enrolments of children in the schools this year because of the Covid break, his department had vowed to work against the clock to ensure no child died this year.

“Children are the future. They are the Mandelas of tomorrow. When they die, we all feel sad and disillusioned because the death of one child is one too many,” said Makamu on Wednesday.

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