court in South Africa has thrown out a bid by a family to claim about 3m rand ($240,000; £170,000) in damages from the education department after their five-year-old drowned in his school’s pit toilet in 2014.
Judge Gerrit Muller ordered that two of Michael Komape’s siblings be paid 6,000 rand each for general medical expenses.
He rejected the bigger claim for “constitutional damages”, local media reported.
The family blamed the education department for the death, saying the toilets at the school in a village in northern Limpopo province were dilapidated and not fit for use.
They sued for trauma, grief, medical expenses, funeral costs and lack of earnings.
The education department challenged the compensation claim, saying the boy’s death was an accident, and not caused by negligence or “unconstitutional conduct” on their part.
The five-year-old’s death caused outrage in South Africa, with many people raising concern about the lack of proper facilities at schools more than 20 years after minority rule ended.
The boy’s mother, Rosina Komape, told the court that the head teacher called her on 20 January 2014, saying her child was missing.
She said a child in the same class told her he had fallen into the toilet.
Mrs Komape said she “could see his whole arm but could not see the rest of his body” and then she fainted.
Her son’s death left her traumatised, and she lost her job, she added