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By unknown | Jun 12, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Vusi Ndlovu

Vusi Ndlovu

The creche in Orlando West, Soweto, where two-year-old Olwethu Banda died last week, was an accident waiting to happen.

This was said by Gauteng social development department inspectors after a visit yesterday.

They were appalled by the problems they uncovered about the school's safety and hygiene.

The inspectors interviewed the three teachers, but the principal, who owns the Lee Creche and Preschool, was attending a business meeting.

Investigators found that the lawn in the playground, where teachers say Olwethu fell from a slide, was full of rocks and stones that endangered the children's safety.

They said the creche's permit was issued in 2006 and had not been renewed each year.

The permit allowed the school to accommodate 32 children but the inspectors found 42 names on the register.

The three toilets had no washbasins, soap or toilet paper.

In the kitchen they found bottles of baby formula stored on top of the fridge instead of inside it.

Inspectors said they also found that the children were not being fed the balanced meals listed on the menu chart.

At least one of the three teachers conceded she lacked the qualifications required to work at a creche.

Spokesman Fred Mokoko would not comment on the department's preliminary investigation, but confirmed that his inspectors had uncovered many problems.

"The concrete surface in the yard is dangerous for children," Mokoko said. "The area where the child was injured has stone and there is tall grass in the yard. We also found empty beer bottles in the yard."

Mokoko said the department would release a statement after it had completed its investigation.

But one of the teachers told inspectors how Olwethu had died while under supervision of the principal.

The teacher said: "At about 11.45am when I went out to call the children for lunch, I found her lying down and other children told me she had fallen from the slide. I picked her up and she did not respond. I thought she had fainted.

"The children playing outside were under the supervision of the principal. She had left them unattended when she spoke to people delivering building material.

"When she realised the child was injured she took her to the doctor, who refused to attend to Olwethu because she was already dead."

Captain Lindiwe Mbath said the police were still investigating the child's death.


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