Deaf school parents want answers

Moselache and Abel Diseko, the parents of Katlego, one of the victims who died when a school hostel caught fire, with their grandson Realeboga.
Moselache and Abel Diseko, the parents of Katlego, one of the victims who died when a school hostel caught fire, with their grandson Realeboga.
Image: Tiro Ramatlhatse

Families of the children who died when the North West School of the Deaf caught fire say the provincial department of education failed to keep them in the loop.

The three victims - Katlego Diseko, 16; Bulelwa Koli, 18; and Emily Oageng, 22 - died in August 2015 when their hostel in Leeudoringstad near Wolmaranstad caught fire.

Almost three years after their deaths, the SA Human Rights Commission has released a final investigation report.

The report stated that the North West department of education and the minister of basic education did not protect the rights of pupils.

Katlego Diseko's mother, Moselache, said her daughter would only rest in peace after they know what caused the fire.

She was not happy that a report was out and they had to hear from the media about its finalisation.

Katlego was in Grade 8 at the time.

"It has been almost three years and I can't forget her last words. I feel like I failed her," Diseko said.

Her daughter sent her an SMS minutes before her death.

"She said 'mama there is smoke in the room, we have locked ourselves in a toilet'."

Moselache said a few minutes later her daughter sent another message saying she was dying.

"How can I forget that. I need answers, I need to know what had happened."

Ntate Koli, the brother of Bulelwa, said they were happy the report was finalised but needed to see those responsible held accountable.

"What caused the fire? We need to know, we need to heal, we want people to explain."

He said no one had alerted them to how far the investigation was.

"They were here during the funeral. MEC Wendy Matsemela promised to let us know, but nothing so far."

The report recommended the South African Council of Educators institute disciplinary proceedings within three months against employees of the North West department of education who were responsible for safety but failed or neglected to ensure that safety measures were in place at the school.

Education spokesman Elias Malindi said they would look at the report and engage with their legal team to see how best they could deal with the matter.

"We just received the report. We will study it and give a proper response afterwards."

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