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Saturday, May 21, 2022

School pit toilet case in Limpopo postponed


The court case to fight the eradication of pit toilets in Limpopo schools, originally set to be heard by the High Court of South Africa Limpopo Division on Monday has been postponed.

Dr Faranaaz Veriava, head of education rights programme at Section27 said the organisation is “extremely disappointed” that this matter is not heard in court as planned.

Veriava said the case was set to be heard before Judge Muller by the Registrar, however, the judge was not available on that date.

She said Section27 will be asking for a date at the soonest possible opportunity for this matter to be heard.

She added that the organisation is waiting to receive an alternative court hearing date from the High Court in Polokwane.

“Given the seriousness of the matter, and because learners’ rights and lives are at stake, we are requesting a preferential date. We will communicate the new dates and details with media in due course,” said Veriava.

In 2018 the court ordered the Department of Basic Education and the Limpopo Department of Education to file plans to eradicate pit toilets and provide the court with an updated audit of sanitation needs at schools in the province.

“We are saying that ‘plans’ made to eradicate pit toilets at schools in the province are not good enough. These plans are not reasonable in terms of the law and claim that pit toilets can only be eradicated from all Limpopo schools by the end of 2030. This is unconstitutional,” said Veriava.

 Adding that the organisation is requesting that the court order education authorities file a new, consolidated plan about how they will urgently replace all pit toilets at schools in the province and replace them with appropriate sanitation.

We are also calling for better oversight and monitoring of delivery, she added.

“Unless a more comprehensive, urgent and coherent plan is implemented, thousands of learners will be at risk of dying or being injured at schools with unsafe toilets for the next decade,” she said.

The order to eradicate pit toilets in the province was handed down after Michael Komape died after he fell into a pit toilet.

Veriava said it has been seven years since Michael died and three years since the structural interdict was handed down requiring that the department of basic education develop a plan for the eradication of pit toilets in Limpopo.

“The ongoing violation of the rights of poor learners because of unsafe and undignified toilets must be remedied,” she said.

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