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By Citizen Reporter


Govt to blame for those who died in pools of faeces – Saftu president

Saftu's Ruth Ntlokotse says that the Dept of Education is to blame for the child who drowned in a pit latrine.

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) president Ruth Ntlokotse has lashed out at the Department of Education after a four-year-old pupil was found dead in the school pit toilet in the Eastern Cape.

Ntlokotse said that blame for the child’s death should lay entirely with the education department and the government, who she accused of failing to fulfil the regulations relating to the Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for Public  School Infrastructure gazetted in 2013.

ALSO READ: Four-year-old found dead inside school’s pit toilet

“The regulation – which applies to all public schools, said schools must have ‘improved pit latrines’.

“For us these toilets must be built to suit children of different ages, with specifications and even due monitoring of foundation phase learners in such schools when they use those toilets,” she said.  

Ntlokotse explained that according to the latest National Education Infrastructure Management System (NEIMS) report published in 2021, the country still had about 5 167 schools that used pit toilets.

“Majority of these schools are located in rural provinces of Limpopo, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. 

Infrastructure in rural areas still scanty

Ntlokotse said that infrastructure in rural areas was still insufficient, describing it as “developing at a tortoise pace”.

“Many communities still have dangerous streams  and rivers to cross on bare foot, without bridges,” she said.

“Directly linked to our demand for the eradication of toilet pits, is the provision of water. The NEIMS report showed that 5 836 schools had unreliable water supply and 1 235 relied on mobile tankers. How will such school have flushing toilets when there is no reliable water supply,” she lamented.

Ntlokotse feels that the death of the four-year-old pupil, and those who drowned in pools of faeces in pit toilets over the years since the dawn of democracy, has to be blamed on the ANC government.

“It’s mismanagement, corruption and underfunding that has reproduced conditions of squalor which our schools have to cope under. 

“It must be highlighted that these schools, and the conditions of squalor in which they operate in, are a mirror image of the communities they are located in. Put differently, these schools are a microcosm of society.

“These communities, all of whom are working class communities, lack reliable supply of water, do not have toilets that affords them hygiene, do not have decent roads, lack recreational facilities and more,” she said.

The four-year-old pupil was found dead in her school’s pit latrine a day after her mother reported her missing. When the child had not returned home, her mother went to school the next day to check with her teachers. It was then that they discovered her lifeless body.

ALSO READ: Missing toddler’s body found in pit toilet in Limpopo

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