6-year-old dies after a two-floor plunge

Epileptic pupil dies at inner city school a week after celebrating his birthday

THERE was an eerie quietness at Providence Academy in the Johannesburg city centre yesterday after a six-year-old boy fell to his death from the second floor of the 10-storey school building.

Katlego Nkabinde had celebrated his birthday 10 days ago and had hardly spent a week at his new school when the tragedy occurred. His mother Thembi Nkabinde had left Katlego in the care of security guards before the teachers arrived.

"When some of the high school pupils arrived I searched them and that was when Katlego disappeared," said security guard Sam Ndlovu.

It is suspected Katlego went into a classroom on the second floor, put a chair by the window, climbed onto the chair and fell to his death.

Providence Academy is an independent school which opened in 1995.

When Sowetan arrived at the school at 9am, Nkabinde was still in shock.

Katlego's grandmother Ruth Ntuane said: "Katlego was epileptic and we had informed the teachers to make sure he took his medication at 8am.

"When we received the call from the school, I just assumed that he had an epileptic fit. But he had not had a fit in a very long time.

"He was so happy when I saw him on Monday. He was still so excited about his first few days of school.

"He wanted me to bring him a big packet of potato crisps."

The boy's distraught mother said: "He never got a chance to live up to his name." Katlego means success.

Providence Academy principal Brighton Sikwili said: "It is hard when people entrust their children to you and this sort of thing happens.

"I got the call at 7.06am that Katlego had fallen. I could not understand because the little ones are not allowed inside the school without a teacher.

"I'm shocked. Why us, why did this have to happen," added Sikwili as he fought back tears.

Ntuane and Nkabinde said the family could not blame the school for the boy's death.

Educational psychologist Dr Ken Resnick said: "It is definitely not possible for a 6-year-old to contemplate or think of something as abstract as suicide. It may be a case of curiosity and children that age have very little sense of danger."

City of Johannesburg spokesperson Nkosinathi Nkabinde said there were no by-laws for school safety as the municipality's responsibilities ended with pre-school facilities.

But said Gauteng department of education spokesperson Charles Phahlane said, "We will send a team to investigate whether the school is compliant with its registration terms, including municipal by-laws. They should have a health and a fire certificate."