A private school owned by Curro Holdings has been accused of failing to offer emergency medical assistance to an injured minor while on a three-day school camp.
The father of the minor, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child, has also accused the school of failing to issue an official incident report within five days of the incident.
He said the report was only issued 25 days after the incident, and only when he approached Curro Holdings’ senior management.
His eight-year-old daughter, whose name is known to City Press, sustained injuries in the face while she was on an adventure camp with schoolmates at Thaba Morula in North West in May.
According to two reports from the school in possession of the newspaper, the minor was injured during “stalk a lantern” – a group walk that was done at night as part of their activities.
A report compiled by her class teacher, Maltida Mapate, said boys were scaring girls with a story that there was a lion on site when the incident happened.
When the girls heard this, they started running and that was when the minor fell and other children fell on top of her, Mapate’s report stated.
Another report from the school said the child was comforted by teachers on arrival at the base.
“They tended to her injuries by cleaning her face, applying antiseptic cream and making her a cup of tea. When her class teacher returned from the other activity she was informed of the incident and immediately went to her where she comforted her and made sure that she was fine.”
In the morning, Mapate phoned her parents and informed them about the accident, the report said.
It stated that Mapate asked the minor if her parents should be called to fetch her, to which she objected and wanted to participate in wall climbing.
Her father said he was asked to come to the bus when the pupils returned from the camp.
“To my horror, there was my daughter so severely bruised and with visibly unwashed wounds on her face.”
The distraught father said he took his child to the doctor on her arrival from the camp.
The doctor ordered her not to attend classes for three days due to extent of injuries, according to a sick note in possession of the newspaper.
He said he also sought services of a clinical psychologist to counsel her.
The school declined to respond to specific questions. Instead, Curro Thatchfield executive head Marlene Gerber referred questions to the communications unit.
In a statement, the school said: “Curro has engaged with the parents regarding the incident and will follow our internal processes accordingly. For the protection of the learner, no further commentary will be made.”
The school camp started on May 19 and learners returned on May 21. It was on night of May 19 that the minor was injured.
Her father said the school did not inform the family immediately after the incident, and accused staff of being uncaring.
“Instead, we were informed a day after the incident. And when we got the information, her injuries were described as minor scratches over which should not worry. My daughter was made to spend the whole night in pain and without any medical attention.”
He said paracetemol was administered to her the following day.
“From the class teacher’s report, my daughter was given Panados after she had complained of spending the whole night in severe pain. This fact was not disclosed to us by the school,” he said.
He said the school also downplayed the extent of her injuries saying they were minor scratches.
“How on earth my daughter could be expected to participate in the wall-climbing activity with all her injuries can be best explained by the school? The report alleges that the educators had acted in the best interests of the child. In my view, the fact that she was kept at the camp without any medication and in severe pains does not appear to be in the best interests of the child,” he said.
Gauteng provincial education acting spokesperson Oupa Bodibe confirmed that the department was made aware of the incident.
“Our preliminary investigation revealed that the learner sustained injuries while participating in an activity called stalking the lantern, which is a standard camp night activity. The activity takes place in a field and learners have to crawl as close as they can to a lantern. The girls started to run and unfortunately fell and got injured.
“The camp instructors intervened immediately and took her back to the base camp to asses severity of her injuries. A proper evaluation of the injuries was done by a first aider, and established that the injuries were not severe and not deemed necessary to take her to hospital.”
Bodibe said the report revealed that an allegation that the school only responded 25 days after the parents wrote to the school was unfounded.
“The parents were invited to the school. Unfortunately they did not honour the invitation. According to information at our disposal, the necessary information was shared with parents,” Bodibe said.