Teach children how to play safe

2019-02-26 14:52
Luthando Makhathini (10) was found hanged at a friend’s house after playing the ‘swinging game’ on February 17

Luthando Makhathini (10) was found hanged at a friend’s house after playing the ‘swinging game’ on February 17

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Experts say parents and schools should be engaging children on the topic of death following the tragic death of a 10-year-old Imbali girl while playing the “swinging game”.

Luthando Makhathini was found hanged at a friend’s house after playing the game with friends on Sunday, February 17.

The Witness was told that the game involved the children tying a rope onto the roof beams and making a loop at the hanging end.

They then stood on an empty tin with their heads inside the loop and kicked the tin away. While swinging they would push the rope away from their necks to prevent them from choking until the other kids bring back the tin under the swinging person’s feet.

The family at the place where Luthando died, told The Witness they are “saddened, heartbroken and still very traumatised” by the incident.

They also feel as if they are being unfairly blamed for her death.

Thembisile Maphanga (60), said she regarded Luthando and her eight-year-old sister as her own grandchildren as they were always at her house.

She even took them to church with her on Sundays. Maphanga said the incident was very unfortunate and asked people not to blame her and her family for the child’s death.

“On that day the children were outside. I use crutches and can’t walk properly so most of the time I am inside and I can’t see inside the rondeval from inside the main house,” she said.

Maphanga added that they heard her six-year-old granddaughter shouting for help and rushed to see what was happening.

Thandeka Maphumulo found Luthando lying on the floor in the rondeval after the six-year-old managed to take her down from the rope. She said the children are all still very traumatised.

“We would have never deliberately left the child to die. We tried to help her, but it was already too late.”

Pyschologist Clive Willows says children will naturally try to seek out excitement. “Children are also naturally subjected to peer pressure at that age and they don’t even know what the consequences could be,” he added.

Adults, parents and childminders need to engage with children on what they are doing and guide and protect them, he said. “It [the incident] is disturbing and raises the question of how children in those age groups understand death and the most important question is how children understand the finality of death.

“That’s a long and complicated question that we as parents all need to confront as to how to deal with children in that regard,” said Willows.

Vee Gani, chairperson of the Parent Association of KwaZulu-Natal, said it was the responsibility of schools, parents and guardians to educate children on what is acceptable play and what is not, what is dangerous and what is not.

“The problem is that the only time schools pay attention and talk to pupils about such things is when tragedies happen. They don’t do it on a regular and ongoing basis,” he added.

Gani said it was also important for parents to have open and honest conversations with their children.

“Parents need to know where their children are and what they are doing at all times. If there are children visiting at your home, it is the parent’s responsibility to know what they are doing.”

Gani added that it was important to find out where such games stem from and deal with the source as by dealing with the children “we merely dealing with the symptoms”.

He said other deadly games children are known to play included wrestling, the “choking game” and playing with “black magic”.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  accidents while playing

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