Section27 says the poor conditions of toilets in schools in Limpopo continue to pose an imminent threat to the lives, health and dignity of learners. Picture: Supplied
Section27 says the poor conditions of toilets in schools in Limpopo continue to pose an imminent threat to the lives, health and dignity of learners. Picture: Supplied

Limpopo’s pit latrine toilet battle finally heads to court

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Aug 2, 2021

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A case calling for the removal of pit-toilets at schools in Limpopo will be heard in the provincial high court, six years after the matter was first instituted.

The hearing, initially set to be heard on Monday, 24 May 2021, was postponed after the Judge President of the High Court indicated that the date had not been confirmed by all parties.The matter is now set to be heard in court on Friday.

Advocacy group, Section27, instituted legal proceedings against the Limpopo Department of Education and the Department of Basic Education, for safe and proper sanitation in schools in Limpopo in 2015.

"The poor condition of toilets in schools in Limpopo continue to pose an imminent threat to the lives, health and dignity of learners. These unsafe pit-toilets are responsible for the injury and death of learners," said Section27 spokesperson, Julia Chaskalson.

Section27 took up the issue after tragic deaths of two children in the province - Lister Magongwa and Michael Komape.

In 2013, seven-year-old Lister died when the walls of the pit toilet collapsed on him at the Mmushi Primary School in Limpopo. A year later, five-year-old Michael Komape was killed when he slipped and drowned in a pit toilet at his school.

In 2018, the High Court handed down a structural order in the Rosina Komape and Others v. Department of Basic Education and Others case, instructing the LDOE to address the need for safe toilets in schools by submitting a plan for the eradication of pit toilets, as well as an audit indicating the sanitation needs throughout schools in the province.

"However, the plan that the LDOE provided is unreasonable and unconstitutional, suggesting that the department will abolish pit-toilets by the end of 2030. This will contribute to the continuation of violations to learners’ rights to basic education, equality, dignity and an environment that is not harmful to their health or wellbeing.

“We are going back to court to seek an order for the LDOE to submit a new and consolidated plan that deals with poor sanitation in schools on an urgent basis," Chaskalson said.

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