Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says the eradication of basic pit toilets at schools has already begun.
In a written parliamentary question to Motshekga, the IFP’s Siphosethu Ngcobo questioned the department on what measures have been taken to ensure that the Limpopo Department of Education eradicates unsafe and unhygienic toilets at rural schools following the deaths of five-year-old Micheal Komape and Siyamthanda Mtunu, aged 6.
In 2014, Komape fell into a pit toilet and drowned at the Mahlodumela Primary School in Limpopo.
Mtunu died in 2017 after the walls of a toilet collapsed on him at Dalasile Primary School in the Eastern Cape.
In 2018, five-year-old Lumka Mketwa fell into a pit toilet and drowned at her school, the Luna Primary School in the Eastern Cape.
Motshekga said the SAFE (Sanitation Appropriate for Education) programme was launched to eradicate basic pit toilets. There are currently 2 913 schools countrywide on this programme.
Of these schools, Motshekga said 1 159 with “appropriate toilets” have already been constructed. In Limpopo, 170 schools out of 455 have benefited from the programme so far.
Ngcobo further requested an indication of immediate interventions which would ensure that parents in the rural areas do not continue to lose their children to unsafe toilets.
To this, Motshekga said there were two initiatives related to the programme to ensure the safety of children.
These include building appropriate toilets at schools and the demolition of old basic pit toilet structures.
“This second initiative is driven by the provincial departments of education. For example, in Limpopo there are 239 schools that have appropriate toilets, but the old basic pit structures were still on site. At 86 of these 239, contractors have been appointed and the old basic pit toilets have been demolished.”