Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

‘All four teachers were on their phones’: Family reeling after bookshelf collapses on toddler

Gauteng MEC Matome Chiloane visited the Little Ashford Preschool on Wednesday.

The family of Kganya Mokhele have questioned the circumstances surrounding their three-year-old boy’s death after a bookshelf collapsed on him at his preschool.

Police have already launched an investigation into the incident, which took place at the Little Ashford Preschool in Senderwood on Tuesday morning.


Visiting the early childhood development (ECD) centre on Wednesday, Gauteng MEC Matome Chiloane said the provincial department intends to institute their own investigation into the incident at the preschool “to get to the bottom of this”.

“We will be appointing a set of investigators to come in and look for a number of things. Among those is compliance… if you have a class of toddlers, you know that the shelves should be mounted.

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“[However], I am not predetermining what the potential outcome will be of that particular forensic [investigation]. We will look into the scope of it – but, for now, we would want to allow the parents and family to the opportunity to find closure,” the MEC said.

Chiloane also said the provincial department will, thereafter, receive a report.

“It’s not easy for anyone to lose a child, irrespective of the age. Our children are the ones who supposed to be burying us and if a parent finds themselves on the side, it’s very difficult for them.”

‘Lifeless body’

Sipho Radebe described the CCTV footage of the incident as “horrible”, saying his grandchild’s death could have been prevented.

“This cabinet that fell onto our child is taller than me; it’s about 1.8m in length and 1.5m in width. It fell on top of this three-year-old, and he passed away there and then. The paramedics took a lifeless body. Even at the hospital, the nurses have told us that this child did not die here.

“We don’t want to prejudge this, but our preliminary investigation, as a family, tells us that this accident could have been prevented,” he said.

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Radebe said the footage showed that the teachers in the classroom were allegedly busy on their cellphones before the incident happened.

“All four of them. You could see the kids playing around, and that’s what three-year-olds do; they are inquisitive. So that really made us very sad.”

According to Radebe, video footage revealed that the incident happened around 9am on Tuesday although the toddler’s father, Ntaote Mokhele, was only called to the scene after an hour.

“I came here at one o’clock and the father arrived around 11am. So there’s something missing.”

‘Purely out of protocol’

Cedric Ntumba, who is the CEO and co-founder of Little Ashford Group, said the school was “traumatised” and “devastated” by the incident.

“We cannot begin to understand the depth of the Mokhele family’s pain and we will be there every step of the way to support them through this awful time. The team at Ashford Senderwood is deeply saddened and we have sent our sincere condolences to the family,” he said.

Ntumba said the school were cooperating fully with the authorities.

“There are multiple investigations taking place. The police stayed until very late. The staff stayed behind, statements were taken [and] forensics were on site.”

He also explained why the family was initially prevented from seeing the CCTV footage.

“Some of the delays in time and access to information was purely out of protocol and procedure – and a lot of it were informed by the police and investigating officers on site.”

The school will be closed for the rest of the week.

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