THE High Court in Polokwane, Limpopo, has delivered judgment in the matter brought forward by advocacy group Section 27 against the Basic Education Department’s plan towards the complete eradication of pit toilets.
Judge Gerrit Muller ruled that the Limpopo Education Department was in violation of an order handed down during the Rosina Komape versus the Minister of Basic Education and others in 2018.
Section 27 spokesperson Ntsikelelo Mpulo said the ruling will compel government to revise its initial plan.
“The judgment is a vindication of the rights of learners in Limpopo to safe and dignified sanitation. It follows a six-year legal battle to ensure that the Limpopo Department of Education and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) eradicates pit toilets in that province,” according to Mpulo.
“We requested the court to direct the Member of the Executive Council in the Limpopo Department of Education (“MEC”) to remedy the shortcomings of the plan to ensure that it is constitutionally compliant. We are delighted that the court has recognised the urgent need to eradicate pit toilets in our schools.”
In 2018, the court handed down a structural order which directed the DBE and LDOE to supply each school in Limpopo with safe and dignified toilets, to conduct a comprehensive audit of sanitation needs – detailing the names and locations of all schools with pit toilets in the province – and provide a comprehensive plan for the installation of new toilets.
Since the structural order, the LDOE and DBE have filed two affidavits with the court – on 31 August 2018, and another on 12 May 2020.
SECTION27 returned to the High Court on 6 August 2021, seeking an order, declaring that the LDOE and DBE’s plans were unconstitutional and in breach of the structural order.
“We requested the court to direct the Member of the Executive Council in the Limpopo Department of Education (“MEC”) to remedy the shortcomings of the plan to ensure that it is constitutionally compliant and file a revised plan in both physical and electronic format with the Court within 45 days. We requested that the Court retain its supervisory jurisdiction in relation to this updated plan,” said Faranaaz Veriava, Head of the education rights programme at SECTION27.
“We are delighted that the court has recognised the urgent need to eradicate pit toilets in our schools and directed the DBE and LDOE to fulfil the constitutional rights of learners to safe and dignified sanitation,”
- Inside Education