Sipho Mabena

By Sipho Mabena

Premium Journalist

Tool to monitor eradication of pit toilets in Limpopo schools

The online accountability tool is launched in the backdrop of several horrific deaths of learners who fall into school pit toilets.

Public interest law group SECTION27 is set to launch an online tool to track progress in Limpopo Department of Education’s progress in the drive to eliminate pit toilets in the province.

The Michael Komape Sanitation Progress Monitor, designed in partnership with the Centre for Child Law will be unveiled during the Human Rights Festival at the Constitution Hill in Johannesburg on Friday.

It is named after the five-year-old learner, Michael Komape, who drowned in a pit toilet at his school in Limpopo in 2014.

ALSO READ: DBE disputes insensitivity claims over Komape case

Horrific deaths

The launch of the accountability tool is launched in the backdrop of several horrific deaths of learners who fall into school pit toilets.

The most recent case is that of Langalam Viki, the four-year-old learner whose lifeless body was discovered in a pit toilet in a public school in the Eastern Cape on 7 March 2023.

Learners should not have their lives threatened and cut short in violent and avoidable ways, the organisation said in a statement on Human Rights Day.

Spokesperson Pearl Nicodemus said they also remember the lives of learners who died in pit latrine toilets; seven-year-old Lister Magongwa who died in 2013 in Limpopo, five-year-old Oratilwe Dilwane who died in 2016 in North West and six-year-old Siyamthanda Mtunu who died 2017.

How many more must die?

She said the Department of Basic Education has a Constitutional obligation to protect the rights of learners at schools, and that SECTION27 continues to seek justice and ask how many more learners need to die before the call to accountability was heeded.

Nicodemus said following SECTION27’s interventions, the High Court in Limpopo handed down judgment in the Michael Komape case in September 2021, compelling the department to provide a list of schools with pit toilets and other inadequate sanitation.

ALSO READ: Komape family wins court battle seven years after their son drowned in a pit toilets

This also includes plans to eradicate these, upgrade school sanitation in the province and to report every six months on the progress.

“According to the…plan, [the Limpopo education department] has until 31 March 2023 to replace pit toilets from all public schools that rely only pit toilets in the Limpopo Province. This is the first deadline for upgrading all “Priority One Schools” – these are schools that rely only on pit toilets and have the most pressing needs,” she said.


Nicodemus said the Michael Komape Sanitation Progress Monitor will allow the public, such as learners, parents, school communities, media, and other stakeholders, to track progress and hold the department accountable for meeting their deadlines.

“It also shows the remaining pit toilets in the province and the number of learners affected. Overall, the tool will monitor the…commitment to adhere to the court order to eradicate pit toilets and provide safe sanitation facilities,” she said.

Nicodemus added that as part of the festival, SECTION27 will also host a two-day exhibition to commemorate the life of Michael Komape from 25-26 March as well as an information stall about organisation’s work of the organisation.

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

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