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Court orders department to fix school after pupil is electrocuted

Geluksdal Secondary School in Brakpan, east of Johannesburg where a 17 year old grade 12 pupil was electrocuted to death.
Geluksdal Secondary School in Brakpan, east of Johannesburg where a 17 year old grade 12 pupil was electrocuted to death.
Image: Thulani Mbele

The High Court in Johannesburg has granted an order compelling the Gauteng education department to fix infrastructure problems at Geluksdal Secondary School in Brakpan, Ekurhuleni.

Judge Friday Senyatsi gave the unopposed order which follows the death of Maubrey Mahudu, a matric pupil who was electrocuted at the school.

The family had approached the court to compel the department to act and fix the poor infrastructure at the school which caused Mahudu’s death.

“I am in agreement 100%, there is a proper case in this case, the relief must be granted,” Senyatsi said on Monday.

On January 30 2017, Mahudu was electrocuted at the school’s mobile classrooms after she took off her shoes as she approached one of the two mobile classrooms as the grounds had been flooded.

Barefoot, Mahudu held onto a metal door frame as she sought to enter the classroom. A live current shot from the distribution board, through the metal door frame and surged through her body, killing her instantly.

Her parents Gladys and Meshack Mahudu and her sister Desiree have taken basic education minister Angie Motshekga, Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, heads of their departments, the school principal and the school governing body to court for what they described as negligence.

The family is suing the department for R7m for infringement of constitutional rights, trauma, grief, medical expenses and loss of earnings.

In October last year the civil society group Section27 successfully applied to be admitted as amicus curiae (friend of court) in the high court in Johannesburg as the group seeks to show the court that the problems of poor infrastructure are prevalent in many schools in the country.

The order issued on Monday compels the department to:

  • urgently fix circuit breakers and earth leakage equipment at the school and ensure that all electrical installations at the school are safe;
  • reprimand the works inspector at the department for failing to provide a report on the death of Maubrey;
  • clarify the scope of responsibilities of all officials in the chain of command within the department as to who is responsible for each party of the maintenance programme in electrical installations;
  • improve security at the school to prevent repeated theft of circuit breakers; and
  • repair the stormwater drainage system in the area outside the mobile classrooms.

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