Boy dies falling into Limpopo pit toilet

A five-year-old grade 0 pupil was discovered dead in an open toilet near his classroom.

FILE: A pit toilet at Valdezia Primary School in the Makhado district, Limpopo. Picture: Tara Meaney/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Basic Education Department has confirmed the death of a five-year-old boy at the Mahlodinela Primary School in Seshego, Limpopo.

The death comes as pressure mounts on government to address the issue of poor sanitation at schools in rural Limpopo.

The body of the grade 0 pupil was discovered in a toilet near his classroom several hours after he was reported missing.

More than 4,000 schools in the province have had to go without proper toilets and sanitation for the past two years, despite promises by the department that the issues would be dealt with.

"It is a regrettable incident but we are working very hard as the department to ensure that the type of sanitation systems that we use at our schools are safer and more dignified," says the provincial education department's Phuti Seloba.

Last week, Eyewitness News reported on the state of some typical Limpopo schools, including the prevalence of inadequate toilets.

One pupil said it was humiliating that they had to queue for the unsanitary toilets at her school.

Another went so far as to say he regretted being born in Limpopo as the province had failed its learners.

Pictures: Tara Meaney/EWN.

Human rights group Section 27 has been trying to help these schools for a number of years now.

The organisation's Nikki Stein says they are shocked at the news.

"This is a terribly tragic situation and we are seeing the violation of learners' rights every single day. This is a particularly extreme tragedy and I think one that may have been addressed had steps been taken to improve the sanitation facilities at these schools."