At least 37 schools in EC have no toilets at all

The province also has the highest number of pit toilets in the country.

Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - It's emerged at least 37 schools in the Eastern Cape have no toilets at all.

The province also has the highest number of pit toilets in the country.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga convened a meeting with education heads in Johannesburg on Thursday as directed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The meeting was aimed at coming up with an urgent plan to rid schools of pit toilets in the coming months in the wake of the recent death of five-year-old Lumka Mkhethwa at an Eastern Cape school.

The Education Department's Elijah Mhlanga said: “The biggest problem is the Eastern Cape where they still have about 37 schools without any form of sanitation whatsoever. It also has the largest number of schools that have pit latrines only.”

At the same time, Motshekga has dismissed assumptions that her department has been doing little to no work to eradicate pit toilets and improve school infrastructure in the country.

The death of Michael Komape and most recently that of Mkhethwa along with other pupils who have not dominated headlines have raised questions around the work the Basic Education Department has been doing to rid schools of dangerous toilets.

Minister Motshekga says the department has been working to address the problem.

“The report we will give you, will tell you where we started from, how far we are and what were the future plans moving forward.”

She says the assumption that her department is only acting after the president's directive is untrue.

“The assumption that we’re sitting on gaping toilets and not doing anything is just very unfortunate because it’s not true.”

The basic education minister says Treasury may have to assist with costs once the department has completed its audit.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)