DA expresses sincere condolences after yet another child dies in a pit toilet

Issued by Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP – DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education
09 Mar 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached English and IsiXhosa soundbite by Baxolile “Bax” Nodada MP.

The DA wishes to express our sincere condolences to the family of the 4-year old  girl whose body was discovered in a pit toilet of a primary school in Glen Grey, Eastern Cape after her mother raised the alarm when she failed to return home on Monday.

This tragic death at the hands of an uncaring ANC government would have been prevented if the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, had not wasted time in eradicating all pit toilets from schools.

The ANC government has the blood of this child on its hands. They have had ample opportunity to eradicate these unsafe toilets over the years – government’s failure to upgrade school infrastructure makes them complicit in this child’s untimely death.

In the decade since the Minimum Norms and Standards was first introduced, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has continuously moved the goal posts – with the Eastern Cape DBE even going so far as disgracefully having to return R100 million that was meant for school infrastructure development and maintenance because they failed to spend it.

There has been little accountability from the Minister over the years. The Department clearly does not care nor have a firm grasp on the situation, and there seems to be little inclination and political will to change that.

The 2021 National Education Infrastructure Management System (NEIMS) report revealed a total of 5 167 schools (21.1%) were still forced to use pit toilets, while 5 836 (25%) of schools do not have reliable water supply. Yet in answer to parliamentary questions, Minister Motshekga has stated that only 3 898 schools were initially identified and that work proceeded at only 2 786 of those. Furthermore, of these 2 786 schools, only 2 359 have been partially completed.

In 2021/22, an additional 622 schools with pit toilets were identified. These wildly differing numbers in the Minister’s answers to parliamentary questions and the NEIMS report indicates that either the Department is not on top of the situation, or is trying to hide the serious extent of the problem.

The DA warned President Cyril Ramaphosa during the debate after the State of the Nation Address (SONA) that pit toilets continues to pose a serious danger for learners. The ANC government is playing with poor and vulnerable learners’ lives. It cannot be that children continue to be actively put in harms way on a daily basis and killed in an environment that’s meant to provide safety and security, because the Minister does not possess the political will to remedy the crisis.

How many children must die at the hands of this ANC government before they act?

The DA will be conducting an oversight to the school and visit the parents of the child in the coming days.