Teachers and children are celebrating new, safer toilets at one Limpopo school as the province slowly revamps school sanitation following the horrific pit latrine drowning of 6-year-old Michael Komape.
Khogonyane Junior Primary School outside Louis Trichardt recently received 10 new toilets for the school of 345 learners.
For nine-year-old learner Pfarelo Mudau, new toilets mean he and classmates no longer have to use dangerous drop-hole pit latrines.
“I am so happy. I was scared to use the pit,” Mudau told OurHealth.
Madau’s fears are real. A year ago, Komape was killed more than a year ago when he fell in a pit toilet and drowned at the Mahlodimela Primary School outside Polokwane.
His death put the spotlight on dangerous and decrepit sanitation at South African schools. While progress in eradicating bucket toilets and dangerous pit latrines is slow, it is happening, according to Isaac Mangena, spokesperson for the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).
The SAHRC launched an investigation into sanitation in Limpopo schools following Komape’s death. [quote float= right] It is only when we approach the Department of Education about a particular school that they respond”
“There has been some progress in this matter and some of the schools have received water and toilets because of our intervention, including the school in Chebeng in Moletji where Komape drowned in a pit toilet,” Mangena added.
“We are trying to deal with this matter school by school because we have realised that it is only when we approach the Department of Education about a particular school that they respond.”
Khogonyane Junior Primary School’s new toilets are part of collaboration between Vhembe District Municipality, private water supplier Lepelle Northern Water and the Department of Education. As part of a commitment to improve sanitation in the area, Lepelle Northern Water had also been employed to construct 200 toilets in the area.
“We need to ensure that the culture of learning and teaching is happening in a conducive environment, with proper infrastructure,” said Ward Councillor Lucy Mulaudzi at the opening of the new toilets at the primary school.
“Vhembe is working hard to address water challenges in the area,” she added. “We have succeeded in renovating and refurbishing some bore-holes and outstanding bore-holes will be attended to in a very short space of time.”