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Toddler’s pre-school death: parents demand answers

Limpho Sello

ONE of Maseru’s upmarket early childhood learning centres, Tiny Tots Pre-School, has been caught up in a corporal punishment storm after a three-year-old learner died from injuries sustained at the school.

The toddler, Bohlokoa David Qhobosheane, died a fortnight ago from head injuries sustained at the school. The school authorities allege that Qhobosheane sustained the injuries after falling from a plastic table at the school. But the family is disputing this, saying their child had visible injuries on his back and head, raising suspicions that he could have been assaulted at the school. The matter has since been reported to the police.

Tiny Tots authorities say they will not comment on the issue until the police have completed their investigations.

On their part, the deceased toddler’s parents, ‘Mabohlokoa and Nkeeane Qhobosheane said the school’s explanation was unsatisfactory and they want answers from the police.

They said their child had only been at the school for five days before he met his tragic end.

“On 14 January 2020 we got a call from the school, saying that he (Bohlokoa) had fallen down,” Ms ‘Mabohlokoa said.

“We rushed to the school and took him to a private hospital. He was immediately transferred to Maseru Private Hospital for a Computed Tomography (CT) Scan but the doctors could not perform the scan on that same day due to a temporary system breakdown. We had to come back the following day.”

She said on her way from the hospital, she was shocked to discover the extent of her child’s injuries after removing his blood-soaked tee shirt.

“I looked at my child and realised he had bumps on the head, scratches on the face and bruises on his body. I wondered whether it was possible for a child who had just fallen down from a desk to have such bumps and bruises.

“On the same day we took the child to the hospital and they did their own tests which we will not reveal at this moment,” Ms Qhobosheane said.

She denied some claims in some quarters Bohlokoa was autistic and that this may have contributed to his untimely demise.

“There are no tests, evaluations or any medical records carried out on our son by any medical doctor indicating that he was autistic.

“This issue of autism comes from the teachers. I don’t know if maybe there were things that they had observed about our child’s behaviour or maybe they have come across information about our child that we do not know about.

“If they observed that our child might be autistic, why didn’t they inform us on the second or third day at school that they can no longer have him as a learner? We could have made other arrangements to find him a better school.

“We are not going to say who did what, only the police investigation will give us what really went down on that day. We need to find the truth so we can be able to move on peacefully. All we want to know is what caused our child’s death. Only then can we be able to heal and our child will surely rest in peace.”

Bohlokoa’s death has sparked an intense debate on various social media platforms with most people blaming the school for his demise.

Many accuse the school of protecting a teacher who allegedly assaulted the toddler.

Meanwhile, the Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (LCN), the Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) and Development for Peace Education (DPE) have called on the public to desist from making unsubstantiated allegations and comments on social media platforms concerning the death of the three-year-old Bohlokoa.

In a recent statement the NGOs said they had learnt “with the great shock and sadness of the passing away of Bohlokoa Qhobosheane, a three-year-old scholar at Tiny Tots Preschool in Maseru.

“The organisations have also witnessed the unfolding of a robust public debate regarding the death of the child, statements made on radio as well as on social media, most of which are pre-judgements, and some even inciting violence.

“While the organisations understand the agitations among the general populace pertaining to the matter, they in turn call for calm and urge the public to afford the family the necessary time to grieve, while also allowing all internal processes to run and bring clarity to the situation lest their pronouncements could have unintended negative bearing.

“The LCN, TRC and DPE are already working on assisting the relevant stakeholders to bring finality to this matter. Issues and stakeholders have already been identified, to ensure the matter is brought to finality and that justice is served. The public will be kept abreast of all developments, as the matter progresses,” the NGOs said in their statement.


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