Get rid of school pit latrines, court orders
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Pretoria - The Polokwane High Court in Limpopo has ordered the provincial and national Departments of Education to come up with a revised plan on how they plan to eradicate pit latrines in all schools across Limpopo within 90 days.
This comes after the family of 5-year-old Michael Komape took the government departments to court following his death in January 2014 after he fell into a toilet at the Mahlodumela Primary School in Chebeng Village outside Polokwane.
The family wants the state to be compelled to provide a list of all schools with pit toilets and get rid of them.
It’s been seven years since Michael’s tragic death. Section 27, which acted as legal support for the family, were also petitioning for the provincial department to draft a new plan to eradicate pit latrines at schools.
According to them, the plan should outline how the department intended to address the urgent school sanitation problems in the province.
The Komape family had initially claimed damages in the high court, but this was overturned in the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2019 when they were awarded R1.4 million.
In the scathing judgment, Judge Gerrit Muller ordered in part: “The defendants are directed to file with this court, within 90 days from the date of this order, a revised and detailed plan that provides an accurate, consolidated, and verified list of schools with pit toilets in the Limpopo province, identifying the name and location of the school, and indicating schools which only have pit toilets and schools which have pit toilets in use, alongside other forms.”
The judgment added: “The defendants must provide a clear methodology for updating and auditing the list of schools on a regular basis, and identify which sanitation programme each school on the list falls under.”
So far, more than 3 000 schools use pit latrines across the country, with most being in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
Responding to the Pretoria News, Department of Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said: “We have noted the judgment and will comply by it.”