Despite delays campaign to eradicate pit toilets at schools in Limpopo continues

Despite delays campaign to eradicate pit toilets at schools in Limpopo continues

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Pretoria – Section27’s court case to fight for the eradication of pit toilets in Limpopo schools, which was originally set down to be heard by the high court of South Africa (Limpopo Division) today, has been postponed.

Section27, who are launching this urgent application, said the judge who was due to hear the matter was unavailable.

“We are awaiting an alternative court hearing date from the high court in Polokwane. Given the seriousness of the matter, and because learners’ rights are at stake, we are requesting a preferential date,” Julia Chaskalson of Section27 said.

She added that despite delays to this case, their campaign to eradicate unsafe and unlawful pit toilets at schools across Limpopo continued.

The case started in 2016 and their campaign for new safer toilets is now in its sixth year.

They are going back to court to fight for the implementation of an order which was handed down after Michael Komape lost his life when he fell into a pit toilet.

His family took the Department of Basic Education to court, which gave clear guidelines to the department regarding the way forward.

The court ordered, in 2018, that the department and the Limpopo Department of Education file plans to eradicate pit toilets and provide the court with an updated audit of sanitation needs at schools in the province.

Chaskalson said evidence suggested that progress made to implement the structural order had been slow, and Section27 had serious concerns about the plans of the education authorities.

“We intend to return to court as soon as possible to urge the court to order that the department file a new, consolidated plan for the eradication of unlawful and undignified sanitation at Limpopo schools, and calling for better oversight and monitoring of service delivery.”

Section27 said they were extremely disappointed that the matter was not going ahead today.

“We will be asking for a date at the soonest possible opportunity for this matter to be heard,” its head of education rights programme, Dr Faranaaz Veriava, said.

“It has been seven years since Michael Komape died and three years since the structural interdict was handed down requiring that government develop a plan for the eradication of pit toilets in Limpopo. The ongoing violation of the rights of poor learners because of unsafe and undignified toilets must be remedied.”

The department said in court papers that all Limpopo schools would have safe toilets between 2028 and 2030. According to it, it had a plan in place, although things may be progressing slowly.

But Section27 is demanding that the education authorities craft a plan to eradicate pit toilets sooner than later, and is calling on the departments to meet their obligations to ensure a safe learning environment. Following the Komape tragedy, the court ordered that the departments supply each school in Limpopo with safe toilets. They also had to conduct a comprehensive audit of sanitation needs.

Pretoria News



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