Section27 raises concerns in DBE's revised plan to remove pit toilets in schools

In 2018, the Limpopo High Court issued a structural interdict, the department was ordered to put together a comprehensive plan to eradicate unsafe sanitation infrastructure in the province’s schools.

FILE: A pit toilet at a Limpopo school. Picture: Tara Penny/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - Almost a decade after five-year-old Michael Komape drowned in a pit toilet at the Mahlodumela Primary School in Limpopo, the fight for safe school sanitation in the province is still raging on.

In 2018, the Limpopo High Court issued a structural interdict - the department was ordered to put together a comprehensive plan to eradicate unsafe sanitation infrastructure in the province’s schools.

This on the back of a case brought by the Komape family, assisted by public interest law clinic Section27.

But last year, the family returned to court and had the plans the department had submitted in response, which were expected to take some 14 years to implement, and were declared unconstitutional with Judge Gerrit Muller ordering the department to submit revised ones.

Those revised plans have now been filed with the court.

Section27 said while they were an improvement on the original plans, there were still concerns including a R3.1 billion shortfall to fund implementation.

This they say may jeopardise whether the government could actually implement this plan.

The organisation said the budgetary problem was that on its calculations only R4.7 billion of the R7.8 billion required to implement the plans had been confirmed leaving a shortfall of R3.1 billion.

This, it said, could seriously jeopardise the plans’ realisation.

It also said while the department had identified 286 schools, which still relied solely on pit toilets, there were an additional 78 that weren’t listed - bringing the total to a staggering 364.

That data on the numbers of schools with pit toilets alongside other forms of sanitation also appears inaccurate.