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Monday, November 29, 2021

Civil organisation back in court this month fighting for proper sanitation in schools

NYAKALLO TEFU| 

Section27 will this month return to the Limpopo High Court to fight for safe, dignified and sanitary school toilets in the province. 

The fight for the eradication of pit toilets at schools in Limpopo continues following the loss of lives because of unsafe toilets. 

 “We filed heads of arguments with the court in October 2020 to continue our now six-year legal battle against the Limpopo Department of Education and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to fight for the eradication of the pit toilets,” said Section27’s Nontsikelelo Mpulo.

Mpulo said the fight is for all the pit toilets responsible for the deaths of learners at school, including Michael Komape. 

Limpopo has been marred by pit toilets controversy since the death of five-year-old Michael Komape in January 2014.

Michael was a pupil at Mahlodumela Primary in Chebeng village. He died after his school’s pit toilet collapsed and he fell in while relieving himself.  

Michael’s lifeless body was discovered by his mother on January 20, 2014. His hand protruded from a pool of human excrement in one of the pit latrines at Mahlodumela Lower Primary School in Chebeng Village, Polokwane.

At the time, the school principal said he had written numerous letters to the Department of Education in Limpopo asking for new toilets to be built for safety reasons.

The letters went unanswered, he said.

In a question-and-answer session in parliament in 2020, Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga said her departments plans to get rid of pit toilets at schools across the country by 2022. 

She admitted that the country has over 4 000 public schools that still use pit latrines.

“The current plan is to eradicate the basic pit toilets by March 2022. This is however, dependent on the availability of funding for this purpose,” said Mothsekga. 

Mpulo said, “this is unconstitutional”. She said Section27 demands that the education authorities craft a plan for the eradication of pit latrines that is coherent and meets the obligation to realise the right to basic education immediately.

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