Teacher back in court for allegedly locking grade 1 pupil in strongroom overnight

Mpumalanga education department spokesperson Jasper Zwane stands inside the strongroom in which a Blackhill Primary School pupil was locked overnight.
Mpumalanga education department spokesperson Jasper Zwane stands inside the strongroom in which a Blackhill Primary School pupil was locked overnight.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/The Sunday Times

A report compiled by counsellors who dealt with a grade 1 pupil from Blackhill Primary School in Witbank who was locked in a dark strongroom overnight is expected to be presented to the Witbank Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

This as the child’s teacher, Fikile Nkambule, who allegedly locked the boy in, was scheduled to return to court.

Nkambule, 30, faces charges of kidnapping and child neglect. She was released on R2,000 bail after spending a weekend behind bars after the incident.

The court heard that she is pregnant.

Blackhill Primary School teacher Fikile Nkambule, who is alleged to have locked a grade 1 pupil in the school strongroom, "forgetting" him there overnight, in the Witbank Magistrate's Court.
Blackhill Primary School teacher Fikile Nkambule, who is alleged to have locked a grade 1 pupil in the school strongroom, "forgetting" him there overnight, in the Witbank Magistrate's Court.
Image: Naledi Shange

Nkambule allegedly locked the pupil in the school strongroom from 1.30pm, when the school day ended, until about 9.30am the next morning, when he was eventually found.

His family panicked, triggering a community search for him through the night, until it was discovered that he never left the school premises. 

SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE visited the school and saw the small, narrow room where the boy spent many hours. 

It measures approximately 1.5m by 2.5m. 

The room had several shelves stacked with boxes, files and a large printer.

While there is a large LED tube light in the room, it did not work.

When the door is closed, the cramped room is pitch-dark. There is no window and hardly any ventilation. 

TimesLIVE accompanied education department officials, the school principal and some staff members to the child’s home, where they offered an apology to the family.

The boy’s family, however, said he was badly shaken.

Asked how they felt about the incident, they called for the law to take its course.

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