South African government seeks to phase out pit latrines from schools

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The South African government has said it will conduct a new audit of all schools in an attempt to ensure all learning institutions phase out pit latrines.

The announcement comes following the deaths of two children who had fallen into such toilets, causing public outcry.

On Monday, a court in Limpopo ordered a school to remove all its pit toilets but it refused to give financial compensation to the parents of a boy who died by drowning in a toilet four years ago.

The 5-year-old Komape youngster drowned in a pit toilet at Mahlodumela Primary School outside Polokwane in 2014.

Another 5-year-old, Lumka Mkhethwa, drowned in a pit toilet at Luna Primary School in Bizana, in the Eastern Cape last month.

Human rights groups say the use of pit latrines is a violation of a child’s right to dignity and have called on the government to urgently build safe facilities.

Local eNCA website reports that the country currently has 3,532 pit latrines in schools.

“After 24 years of democracy, it is appalling that children are still subjected to pit toilets which put their lives at risk. Shockingly, the budget for school infrastructure has been cut by R3.6 billion – when this amount could have met nearly half this need,” it quotes the Democratic Alliance shadow deputy minister of Basic Education Nomsa Marchesi.

Campaign groups are calling for the construction of safer facilities that ensure learner’s safety while in school.

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