Indemnity form furore

2013-06-13 00:00

Officials from the Kwanoshezi Primary School in the Snathingi area allegedly visited Sibusiso Mbense, the father of five-year-old Simphiwe Mbense, asking him to sign the school trip consent forms after his son’s death.

The forms were allegedly supposed to have been signed two weeks before the school trip.

Simphiwe was one of 45 pupils accompanied to the showgrounds by three teachers and three parents.

He was killed on May 30 when he stood up in his car on the Music Box ride and was knocked by another.

A relative of the family told The Witness that they were offended by what the officials had tried to do and it looked like the officials were more concerned about protecting themselves.

However, a Pietermaritzburg legal expert, who declined to be named for professional reasons, said there was nothing wrong with obtaining consent after the fact, as long as it was not under any duress.

“The family of course does not have to consent.”

Speaking to The Witness last week, before Simphiwe’s burial, a relative, who declined to be named, said what the officials had done was cruel.

“The child had not been buried and they come with forms that should have been signed before the trip for us to sign now … the father of the child refused to sign them.”

Simphiwe was laid to rest on Saturday.

The relative said the family had queried other aspects of the trip. “The mother of the child has said she did not give the child money for any of the rides because he was too small, and we were not told that the children would be there for the rides, but that they would observe and learn.”

Attempts to speak to Simphiwe’s father were unsuccessful.

The Royal Show organisers and CEO Terry Strachan confirmed that they gave R20 000 to the family to help with funeral costs. “It was a moral issue. We felt that it was an unexpected and horrific event that the family had to cover and we felt the need to help, regardless of who is liable for what happened.

“No one is admitting liability yet, and it is now up to the police and the inquiry to find that out,” said Strachan.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan said they were still awaiting the result of the postmortem to determine the exact cause of death.

“No foul play was suspected,” she said.

The school’s headmistress, Zabelo Basi, declined to speak to The Witness.

Questions were sent to the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education last week. By the time of going to press last night, the department had still not responded.

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