• Lubeko Mgandela has been charged with child abuse
  • He was released on bail Wednesday
  • The victim was paid $3 for the ordeal

A headmaster has been charged with child abuse for dangling an 11-year-old boy into a pit toilet to search for his cell phone.

The incident happened in a secondary school in Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Lubeko Mgandela, the head of the Luthuthu Junior Secondary School, appeared in court Wednesday and was released on bail.

Mgandela has been suspended from his job while the authorities are investigating the incident, reported Associated Press (AP).

The alleged incident happened earlier this month. Mgandela accidentally dropped his cell phone into a pit latrine at the school. He then reportedly ordered a student to search for his phone from the pit.

The child, whose identity was not revealed, was reportedly lowered into the latrine pit using a thick rope. He was ordered to search for the lost phone inside the pit using his bare hands. The boy was unable to find the phone and was covered in feces when he was pulled back, AP reported.

The boy was reportedly paid Rand 50 ($3) for the ordeal even though he was promised Rand 200 ($13) if he were to find the phone.

The boy has not returned to the school after the incident as he was ridiculed by his classmates.

“It has been hard for my grandchild to go to school because he has been laughed at by other pupils,” the victim’s grandmother told a local news outlet GroundUp.

She is however happy the case is being investigated, reported news outlet Sky News. There are also demands to cancel Mgandela’s educator’s license.

A headteacher has been charged for child abuse after he reportedly dangled a boy into a latrine pit and ordered him to search for his lost phone. pixabay

The country has already reported two deaths, one in 2014 and in 2018, after students fell into the school latrines. The recent incident highlights the government’s failure to eradicate pit latrines despite the promise from President Cyril Ramaphosa to provide proper toilets to all schools within two years after the first death was reported.

“This is an initiative that will save lives and restore the dignity of tens of thousands of our nation's children,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said after a 5-year-old child drowned in a school toilet in March 2014, reported news outlet BBC.