Death of a 3-year-old at Eastern Cape School Pit Latrine Was Avoidable

The deplorable condition of the schools in the Eastern Cape has yet again claimed the life of an innocent three-year-old. ActionSA has learnt that a three-year-old child drowned inside a school pit latrine toilet in Lady Frere, in the Cacadu district.

ActionSA has on numerous occasions decried the fact that learners in over 1000 schools in the Eastern Cape are still forced to use pit latrines to relieve themselves. On this unfortunate occasion, a toddler lost her life because of the inexplicable existence of pit latrines despite the perennial underspending of the department of education. Those at the helm of the government of the Eastern Cape should hang their heads in shame for their lack of care.

Teachers who were tasked with, not only the education of this young girl but also with her well-being and care, have failed her and her parents. It is reported that the lifeless body of the young girl was found on Tuesday, the day after she was last seen by her classmates on her way to the pit latrine to retrieve something. This kind of negligence can never be tolerated in schools, especially in primary schools.

Everyone who was responsible for her safety, including the government, should take collective responsibility for this unnecessary and avoidable death. We should not be calling for the eradication of pit latrines 29 years well into the new democracy and 6 years into the so-called New Dawn.

For three consecutive years the Eastern Cape government has forfeited unspent grant money meant for the construction and improvement of the infrastructure of schools in the province, especially ablution facilities.

ActionSA will explore all avenues to hold the government accountable for this incident and hold them to the deadline to eradicate pit latrines from the face of the Eastern Cape. We can no longer be bystanders to the dereliction and ineptitude of the Eastern Cape government.