Eastern Cape principal ordered to pay R2 000 fine for making pupil retrieve phone from pit latrine

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Former Luthuthu Senior Secondary School principal Lubeko Lennox Mgandela.
Former Luthuthu Senior Secondary School principal Lubeko Lennox Mgandela.
  • The Tsomo Magistrate's Court has sentenced Lubeko Mgandela to 24 months in jail or a fine for forcing a child to retrieve his phone from a pit latrine.
  • Half of the sentence has been suspended for five years on condition that he is not convicted of child abuse during that period.
  • He has since been fired.

The Eastern Cape school principal who was fired for forcing a child to retrieve his cellphone from a pit latrine has been slapped with a fine.

Former Luthuthu Junior Secondary School principal Lubeko Mgandela, pleaded guilty in the Tsomo Magistrate's Court to child abuse and was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment or a R4 000 fine on Wednesday.

But, according to National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Luxolo Tyali, half of the sentence and fine have been suspended for five years on condition that he is not convicted of child abuse during the period of suspension. It means that R2 000 is payable and that the other R2 000 becomes payable in the event that he commits a similar offence within the five-years suspension period.

READ | Eastern Cape principal fired for forcing pupil to retrieve phone from pit latrine

The sentence has sparked outrage in the community.

Children's rights activist, Petros Majola from the Khula Community Development Project, said it was far too light.

Majola said:

We are glad that justice has moved swiftly in this case but we would have loved to see a heftier fine because I am sure this R2 000 was not a problem at all for this man.

The Department of Education fired Mgandela in June after the conclusion of a disciplinary hearing in connection with the incident. The dismissal followed a precautionary suspension.

Eastern Cape police arrested Mgandela for attempted murder on 15 March in Ugie.

ALSO READ | Principal suspended for forcing pupil into pit toilet to search for missing cell phone

However, the charge was later changed to child abuse.

The State alleged in the case that he used a rope to lower an 11-year-old pupil into the staff pit latrine on 1 March to recover his cellphone from it. The device fell into the pit toilet while he was using it.

News about the incident caused uproar. Communities called for his arrest and dismissal.

The child was apparently laughed after after his peers saw him covered in faeces. He was too ashamed to attend classes.

Dozens of other school children also took part in the cellphone search operation, allegedly on Mgandela's orders.

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