A PORT Elizabeth toddler’s feet were badly burnt in a “barbaric attack” with boiling water at a pre-primary school in the city. A teacher has been arrested in connection with the incident.
The family of three-year-old Siya Tyika allege his feet were burnt deliberately as punishment for soiling his pants, but the school insists it was an accident.
Zwide Pre-Primary School teacher Siphokazi Dlaku appeared in the New Brighton Magistrate’s Court yesterday.
Dlaku, 26, was released on warning after being charged with assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
The Social Development Department has vowed to investigate the horror incident immediately.
A social worker has also called for the school to be shut down.
Siya’s grandmother, Elizabeth Tyika, 60, said she could not stop thinking about how her grandson must have felt when the boiling water was poured over his feet.
“I was shocked when I received the news. I just have a picture in my mind of a teacher putting my grandchild in a basin and then fetching a kettle of boiling water and pouring it over the feet of a screaming boy,” she said.
Tyika claimed this was not the first time Siya had been the victim of abuse at the school.
She said in April he claimed to have been locked in a dark storeroom by a teacher, without food or water.
He was allegedly only released after another teacher found him.
After hearing about the latest incident, she had taken a taxi to the school.
But little Siya had already been taken to Dora Nginza Hospital.
Tyika said she was then notified telephonically by another teacher that the boy would be dropped off at home.
“When I got home, I heard someone hoot outside and saw the school principal and my grandchild in a car.
“I was waiting for her [the principal] to come into the house with the child and explain what happened, but she did not.
“I then went out to meet them, and she just gave me medication and left R4 for the child to buy chips.”
Zwide Pre-Primary School principal Noluthando Dlawu said police were investigating.
“I feel like this is unfair. It’s like I did it,” she said.
“Siphokazi has been arrested.
“I am also a parent. Those people are just accusing me of being after money. I have my own reasons for not going inside the house.”
Siya’s upset mother, Babalwa, said when the family contacted Dlawu, she had simply apologised on behalf of Dlaku.
“It’s clear that Siphokazi placed my child’s feet in boiling water,” she said.
“What makes it even worse is that the principal has an ‘I-don’t-care attitude’.
“No one has the right to abuse my child. Now the law must take its course.”
The severely traumatised child has not been to school since Monday last week when the alleged attack occurred.
The hot water melted the top layer of the skin on his feet. He also developed blisters on the side of his feet.
Eastern Cape Social Development Department spokesman Gcobani Maswana condemned the incident.
“This is a barbaric attack. We condemn it in the strongest terms.
“People who commit these acts must rot in jail.
“If we cannot protect the little ones, who is going to protect them?
“Children are sent to these places so that they can stimulate their development,” he said.
Maswana said the department would investigate. He would also visit the school.
Dora Nginza Hospital social worker Pamela Rubushe said schools were meant to protect children.
“We were very shocked when we heard about this.
“If a child comes home with injuries, that is good enough reason for the department to close down the school,” Rubushe said.
The case was postponed to September 11 for further investigation. – Hendrick Mphande