A South African headteacher has been suspended for lowering a pupil into a pit latrine and making him dig through faeces with his bare hands to find his phone.
The master is said to have lowered the 11-year-old boy by rope into the hole and promised him 200 rand (£10) to find the device.
The child, an orphan who is cared for by his grandmother, was left covered in faeces and has been traumatised by the ordeal after being mocked by his peers.
The Eastern Cape education department said it had learnt ‘with shame the ill-treatment' of the boy and others who were instructed to search for the phone by the headteacher.
The incident came to light after a witness recorded it on his phone and uploaded it to social media.
He said that the headteacher first asked older pupils to dig through the latrine in search of the phone.
But he then instructed the boy to go in and dig for the phone with the promise of cash.
‘He was knee-deep in the faeces and he used his own hands to search for the phone, with faeces going even above his hands and to his elbows,' the witness told Naijassador
The child is said to be adamant that he did not volunteer to go down into the latrine but that the headteacher had suggested he could easily fit inside because he was of small build.
The witness claimed that in the end the phone was not found and the headteacher only gave the boy 50 rands for his efforts.
In a statement, the education department said: ‘Upon learning about this and having discussed this with all sections of the department, we have served the principal with a letter of suspension, pending investigation on the matter.
‘Second, as the department, we have dispatched our labour relations officials to investigate the matter with tight and strict deadlines for a report back.'
Local lawmaker Fundile Gade said the incident was ‘beyond disgrace' and promised to visit the pupil's home to make a personal apology on behalf of his department.
‘We really are embarrassed by such behaviour that seeks to destroy the noble profession of teaching,' his office said in a statement.
The education department said it had offered counselling to the young boy and other pupils affected by the incident.