In South Africa, a primary school principal in the Eastern Cape has been sacked after he apparently forced an 11-year-old pupil to go down a pit toilet to retrieve his phone.

The 49-year-old man, Lubeko Mgandela, worked at Luthuthu Junior Secondary School in Ugie. Mgandela is said to have instructed one of the pupils to recover his phone from a pit latrine that was filled with faeces back in March. It is believed that the cellphone had accidentally fallen into the toilet.

Mgandela allegedly enlisted the help of other pupils to tie a rope around the child and lower him into the pit to retrieve the device. The boy had to apparently strip down to his underwear to reach the bottom of the toilet and was apparently offered R200, equivalent to K11,000.

The principal was arrested on 15 March and initially charged with attempted murder. The matter against Mgandela is still underway and he is set to make an appearance in the Tsolo Magistrate’s Court on July 21 for alleged child abuse. He was subsequently granted R2 500 (K141,00) bail after his first appearance in the dock.

According to the Eastern Cape Education Department, Lubeko Mgandela was dismissed on 28 May after a disciplinary hearing and is not allowed to even set foot in the school. He has appealed his dismissal and no decision has been announced yet.

TimesLive spoke to the grandmother of the child who expressed relief over the Mgandela’s suspension. However she is also quoted as having told the publication that she feels sorry for the disgraced principal.

“When I heard the news that the principal was fired, I was relieved because that will teach many others not to subject our children to inhumane conditions. We send them to school to get an education. However, I do feel sorry for the principal because he is also human but what he did to my son was very cruel,” she said.

The incident is believed to have left the pupil traumatised and prompted the provincial Education department to provide psycho-social assistance.

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