“There was a lady watching over the children before the incident and she told the police that she had warned the gardener three times not to operate the machine with the children playing around,” Indiphile Avuyile Baninzi’s uncle, Thabo Makeke, who lived with the boy in Lefereng, alleged.
Soweto police spokesperson Warrant Officer Kay Makhubela said officers were investigating a culpable homicide case following the pupil’s tragic death on Tuesday afternoon. No one had been arrested.
And Gauteng department of education spokesperson Phumla Sekhonyane said a probe, independent from that of the police, was also under way to determine if there was any negligence on the part of the school.
Visiting the school just a day after the Grade R pupil was rushed to the Chris Hani-Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Diepkloof where he was declared dead on arrival, The Citizen was greeted by the sight of his distraught mother, Andiswa Baninzi.
The 30-year-old mum, who lives in East London, had to cut short a business trip in Polokwane, Limpopo, to head to Soweto. Greeting her on arrival at the school was the traumatic sight of the covered lawnmower that claimed her child’s life packed away in a corner inside an administration block.
“He (the victim) had just arrived in Johannesburg from East London to start school here,” said Baninzi.
She said she was told that the machine first caught her child’s leg and somehow his head was also caught – causing him to bleed excessively. Other children playing during the break period reacted with horror.
“The children’s safety should have taken priority,” said the boy’s father, Sabelo Makeke, who added that the boy was the couple’s only child.
School staff members were not prepared to comment yesterday. The funeral has not been planned yet.