State warned about school toilets crisis

22 November 2017 - 06:59 By Zoë Mahopo
People pass a mural painted in Johannesburg that depicts the fall into a pit toilet at his school in Limpopo of Michael Komape. File photo.
People pass a mural painted in Johannesburg that depicts the fall into a pit toilet at his school in Limpopo of Michael Komape. File photo.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

A civil rights body repeatedly tried to push the government into dealing with the sanitation crisis at Limpopo schools at least two years before Michael Komape's death.

Section27 executive director Mark Heywood told the Polokwane High Court on Tuesday that his NGO had raised school sanitation issues with both the national and provincial education departments since 2012.

Section27 is assisting Michael's family in suing Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga after the Grade R pupil drowned after falling into a pit latrine at Mahlodumela Primary School in 2014.

The family is demanding R3-million in damages on the grounds that the department failed to provide safe toilets.

Heywood said Section27 had raised concerns about a number of infrastructure problems at schools, including storm-damaged buildings and neglected pit latrines.

He said the NGO wrote to the education department on numerous occasions but never received a response. "Commitments never translated into action," he said.

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