R750000 payout for burnt butt

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

The parents of a girl whose teacher accidentally burnt her buttocks with burning wax polish have reached an out-of-court settlement with the Mpumalanga education department.

Lawyers representing the parents of nine-year-old Nontokozo Lubisi and those of the department have reached a settlement of R750000 to be paid to the Lubisi family.

The settlement was agreed to after Nontokozo's mother, Nomsa Lubisi, filed a lawsuit against the department.

Her daughter was accidentally burnt by her teacher in a classroom.

The teacher was melting candles to be used as floor polish at the school.

The mixture went up in flames when he added paraffin to the mix.

The teacher flung the pot away and it hit Nontokozo's dress, setting it alight.

Nontokozo, who was at the time a Grade 4 pupil at Timphembeleni Primary School at KaNyamazane, near Nelspruit, sustained third-degree burns to her buttocks.

Nontokozo's mother said her daughter's dress caught fire and she ran screaming for help until she reached a tap and put out the flames .

She accused the principal of offering her family R1000 and asked them not to report the matter to the circuit manager.

The incident happened in February last year and Nontokozo spent more than five months at Nelspruit Medi-Clinic being treated for burns.

The department's spokesman, Hlahla Ngwenya, has confirmed the department had paid the family R750000.

He said: "This payment is for medical expenses as well as legal costs."

He advised teachers to request money from the department, instead of endangering pupils' lives.

"In terms of the schools' budget, schools have to allocate funds for maintenance, including cleaning material, so that there will be no need to use wax polish," said Ngwenya.