Human Right Commission to launch its own probe into pit toilet death

Lobby groups like Equal Education and Section 27 have expressed shock and anger at the tragedy, adding the basic education department must be held accountable.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN – The South Africa Human Rights Commission has launched its own investigation into the death of a five-year-old girl, who drowned in a pit toilet.

Viwe Jali fell into the pit toilet at the Luna Primary School in Mbizana in the Eastern Cape on Tuesday.

Lobby groups like Equal Education and Section 27 have expressed shock and anger at the tragedy, adding the basic education department must be held accountable.

The Human Rights Commission says it's unacceptable that government has failed to eradicate pit toilets at schools.

The commission says the fact that the education sector still reflects the stark disparities of historic deprivation -- with thousands of schools lacking the most basic infrastructure necessary to ensure safety and dignity -- is shocking and cannot be tolerated.

Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa wants Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to come up with an emergency plan to address challenges around unsafe ablution facilities at schools.

Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko says, “She’s further directed that within the next three months or so we must have a plan to ensure that we rid our schools of these hazarders structures.”

Lobby group Equal Education says according to a recent report by the National Education Infrastructure Management System, there are 37 schools in the Eastern Cape where learners have no access to toilets whatsoever.