A school headmaster in South Africa was hit with a child abuse charge Wednesday after allegedly sending an 11-year-old into a feces-filled pit latrine to look for a cell phone earlier this month. The BBC reports the boy at Luthuthu Junior Secondary School was reportedly told he would be paid about $13 if he retrieved the phone from the pit toilet, and that headmaster Lubeko Mgandela allegedly used a rope to lower the child after other students reportedly used buckets to reduce the level of waste. Still the boy was reportedly in feces up to his knees and searched fruitlessly for the phone for as long as an hour.
The phone reportedly belonged to Mgandela, who dropped it into the staff pit latrine while using it. The boy was said to have been paid only $3 by Mgandela, and the child's grandmother says he was teased so mercilessly after the incident that he has not gone back to school. The incident reportedly came to light after a local NGO was told of it. Mgandela has been suspended and is currently out on bail. Pit latrines are still thought to be in use in 3,800 South African schools, and the AP reports they have proved deadly, with two students known to have drowned in them in 2014 and 2018. (Read more strange stuff stories.)