'My child must have been in agony': mom wants to know how disabled son was burnt at school

21 January 2019 - 12:12 By Nivashni Nair
Lulumisa Ncwana with her 11-year-old special-needs son Lunzulu who she says was severely burnt at school. The school has denied any knowledge of the incident.
Lulumisa Ncwana with her 11-year-old special-needs son Lunzulu who she says was severely burnt at school. The school has denied any knowledge of the incident.
Image: Jackie Clausen

A Durban mother has had sleepless nights since discovering unexplained second-degree burns on her 11-year-old mentally disabled's son's thighs.

"I keep imagining how he must have been screaming and crying in pain. I can't even tell you how I feel. My child must have been in agony," Lulamisa Ncwana told TimesLIVE on Monday.

Ncwana, a nurse, described her son as "totally mentally disabled" as he has Hunter's Syndrome, a rare, inherited genetic disorder caused by a missing or malfunctioning enzyme.

"Lunzulu cannot talk so he can't tell us what happened."

On Thursday she received a call from Daydawn Special School in Sydenham, informing her that her son had diarrhoea and would be sent home.

When her son arrived home she noticed that he had burns on his thighs.

She took him to a clinic and thereafter to a hospital, where a doctor told her Lunzulu had  second-degree burns on 3.5% of his body.

Lunzulu Ncwana came home from school with second-degree burns on his thighs and groin area.
Lunzulu Ncwana came home from school with second-degree burns on his thighs and groin area.
Image: Supplied

"He goes to school every day in the morning and comes back in the afternoon. I contacted the school to tell them that my son came back home burnt. The principal told me that she doesn’t know what happened because she is in the office and doesn’t know what happens in the classroom," said Ncwana.

The class teacher then contacted her.

"She said that they didn’t burn him. But they did bathe him. So I asked her, if they had noticed burns on his body, why didn’t they say anything? They [usually] send a message for any scratch on his body but now that he has burns they have kept quiet," Ncwana said.

She also told the teacher that her son did not have diarrhoea when he returned home.

Ncwana has opened a case of child abuse with the police.

"My child was burnt in school and I want to know how and why. His seven-year-old sister has been crying because she cannot believe that someone has hurt her brother."

Ncwana was informed that the department of education would be visiting the school on Monday morning. She was unavailable to attend due to an appointment with a social worker.

"I want the department to find another school for my son. Finding a school for a child with special needs is not easy."

"Four years ago, when I got the call that he was accepted at Daydawn Special School, I was so excited because I thought he would have the chance to be like a normal little boy going to school."

The school confirmed that the education department was investigating and that all queries should be directed to them. KwaZulu-Natal education department spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa confirmed that a team would be visiting the school on Monday.  

"The MEC is shocked over this incident. We are reaching out to the parents to ensure that they are properly briefed as the learner was in the care of educators."

"We also want the school's governing body to be involved to ensure transparency." 

He said the department was working with other government departments, such as health and social development, to ensure that Lunzulu received the necessary support.

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