Pupil dies after being knocked over

Grade 1 pupil Arkash Okwan Mpayipheli attended Wespoort Primary School. Picture: Leon Knipe

The Wespoort Primary School community is reeling following the death of a Grade 1 pupil who was hit by a car driven by a woman last Thursday, January 25.

It is alleged that Arkash Okwan Mpayipheli had run across Merrydale Avenue, in Portland, at about 3pm when the incident happened.

Principal Malikah Ismail-Meyer wrote in a letter to school parents, which has subsequently been shared on community WhatsApp groups: “We are a school and community in mourning.”

She asked that false information not be spread regarding the incident and that the family be respected by stopping the circulation of videos and images on social media.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family during this difficult time and we pray that the Almighty place peace and contentment in the hearts of all his family members affected by this great loss,” wrote Ms Ismail-Meyer.

Neighbour Montagu Drive Primary School principal Anton Arendse, in a letter, called on parents to collect or have their children collected on time; to check their scholar transport; encourage children to cross at the scholar patrol; respect the designated parking spaces; and said supervision at school would only be available from 7.15am.

“Our learners’ safety is paramount and we would appreciate parental co-operation,” he said,

He cited examples of children being dismissed at noon but only being fetched at 3.30pm; and pupils being fetched after 6pm.

SAPS provincial spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Malcolm Pojie said Mitchell’s Plain police were investigating a case of culpable homicide.

“The boy collapsed on the pavement after being hit and succumbed to internal injuries sustained,” he said.

Western Cape Education Department spokeswoman Millicent Merton said the pupil was knocked over by a private transport vehicle.

The department deployed psychologists to the school to assist with counselling.

“The WCED sends its condolences to the family, friends and the school community. This is a tragic and sad incident,” she said.

Mobility MEC Ricardo Mackenzie said he was deeply saddened to hear that a Grade 1 pupil had died.

“My heartfelt condolences go out to the parents, family and friends who are dealing with this devastating news,” he said.

Mr Mackenzie said they checked on the department’s system and confirmed that the vehicle’s registration was not linked to a scholar transport operating licence.

Kevin Jacobs, spokesperson for City of Cape Town’s traffic services, said that they were not on the scene, when the accident happened.

He said that the Road Safety Education Unit provided interventions in the Mitchell’s Plain area, including road safety lectures at schools, early childhood development centres and special needs institutions for children; training and oversight visits of scholar patrols; and management of part time traffic attendants (PTTA).

“The road safety lectures are classroom-led interventions where children are taught how to safely cross a road, safe places to cross a road, road signage, the importance of safety belts and observations and listening skills,” he said.

Mr Jacobs said scholar patrols were managed as children are taught how to regulate traffic at pedestrian crossings; how to manage the scholar patrol with a team and a captain; supplied with uniform by the Western Cape Provincial Government at no cost to the schools. Training is provided to pupils and teachers who participate in scholar patrols and an awareness is instilled among young pedestrians on the importance of road safety.

PTTA are uniformed attendants, who assist children at schools and pedestrian crossings. They can regulate traffic at pedestrian crossings; are employed and trained by the City; and are contractors who work two shifts a day between 7am and 8.30am and then from noon until 3.30pm, dependant on the need at the school.