Fidelity bank banner UBA banner
Why South African children are drowning in toilets

By Pumza Fihlani on 04/06/2018

Share on facebook Yahoo mail icon Gmail icon Share on Google+

Views: 769

•Michal Komape died in this pit latrine at Mahlodumela Lower Primary School
•Michal Komape died in this pit latrine at Mahlodumela Lower Primary School

During his first week at school, five-year-old Michael Komape drowned in a pit latrine in northern South Africa.

That day in January 2014 will be one his father James Komape will never forget.

As he takes me back to the school in Chebeng village, where the tragedy struck, his pain is palpable.

"When I arrived at the opening of the toilet hole all I could see was a small hand," he says.

"Some people were standing looking into the hole, no-one had thought to take him out. It's the saddest thing I've ever seen.

"No-one should die like that."

He pauses for a moment before continuing.

"He must have been trying to call for help to maybe even climb out. It's hard to accept that my son died alone and probably afraid."

Mr Komape struggles to make eye contact.

Instead he fixes his eyes on the neat row of brick toilet stalls, which were built after his son died in the toilet of rusty corrugated iron just metres away.

The iron sheet that had served as the seat collapsed when Michael sat on it. He fell in, along with the seat and its white plastic lid, the authorities said.

But this is not a one-off problem affecting one school.

While access to proper sanitation is a basic human right enshrined in South Africa's constitution, many pupils have no choice but to use pit toilets.

South Africa's school pit latrines

 

How did things get so bad?

Analysts say it is partly a legacy of apartheid, since under white-minority rule virtually no resources were allocated to develop schools for poor, predominately black children.

Also to blame is the failure to maintain existing infrastructure, however basic.

Back at their home just outside Polokwane, the main city in Limpopo province, the Komapes tell me they want justice for Michael's death.

With the help of Section27, a human rights law firm, the family are set to appeal against a recent court ruling which rejected their claim for damages over the incident.

The suit is against Limpopo province's education department, which the family believes was negligent.

"The Komape case is a tragic one but it is an illustration of the dire state of public school facilities in the country," Section27's Zukiswa Pikoli told the BBC.

"We were quite shocked when we heard about the tragedy. There was no way we were not going to help."

Ms Pikoli says Section27 is planning to take the case to the Constitutional Court, South Africa's highest court.

The Komapes are not the only family to lose a child in this manner.

Earlier this year in the rural province of the Eastern Cape, a five-year-old girl drowned in a pit latrine.

Lumka Mkhethwa went missing without a trace from Luna Primary School in March.

The village was notified and a manhunt was conducted overnight by the community, but she could not be found.

The following day the police returned to the school where she had last been seen.

A pack of sniffer dogs lead them to the grisly find. Her tiny body was at the bottom of a dark, faeces-filled toilet.

After her death, South Africa's new President Cyril Ramaphosa called for pit latrines to be eradicated by the end of 2018.

But this ambitious plan will need money.

'Years of neglect'

An interim government report suggests it will cost more than 11bn rand ($876m; £660m) - a sum it hopes to raise with help from the private sector.

"We are having to address many years of neglect and but change is coming, even if slowly," says Elijah Mhlanga, an official in the lower education ministry.

"These two incidents have been tragic but we are hoping that this shows everyone the seriousness of the crisis," he adds.

"We have received interest, with people offering to help with the funding.

"It is our intention to see that all the children in our schools are in safe facilities."

Teacher patrols

In another village in Limpopo province, word of Michael's death has changed the normal school routine.

Sebushi Primary School is modest, but clean and well-kept.

Behind a vegetable garden sits a row of pit latrines.

Many have a large opening at the back, where teachers now monitor pupils as they use them.

"Every morning from 06:00 a teacher patrols the toilets, monitoring who goes in and out," says Joseph Mashishi, chairman of this school's governing body.

"We don't want what happened to the Komape family to happen in our school. No child should have to die in faeces, it is inhumane."

Many in Michael's community have now been stirred into action.

They are fighting to have new toilets installed in all the region's schools, in memory of the young boy whose life ended too early. (BBC)

Source News Express

Posted 04/06/2018 11:55:15 AM

 

Share on facebook Yahoo mail icon Gmail icon Share on Google+


 

CLASSIFIED ADS

 

You may also like...
Buhari, Osinbajo declare assets

Jonathan appoints new bosses for Petroleum Fund, Content...

YES Movement tasks FG on economic hardship

End SARS today, another police criminal gang will...

Biafra agitation a result of frustration on the...

6 mistakes every entrepreneur should avoid

The rats are not to blame, By ’Fisayo...

Gov Bello signs Pension Act into law

Zuckerberg, wife declare war on diseases worldwide, vote...

NSCDC warns officers against abuse of firearms

Ambode raises police death insurance benefit, presents additional...

Nnamdi Kanu’s life in danger in DSS cell:...

 

Latest News How money and life’ll shape 2019 polls How I will relate with Governor Obiano if I become Nigeria’s Vice President — Peter Obi Ekweremadu to dump PDP? Traditional ruler, wife abducted in Kaduna Herdsmen vow to sack Governor Ortom in 2019 Igbo leaders worried as Nnamdi Kanu reappears in Israel N4.65bn ONSA fund: EFCC moves Fayose to Lagos Kidnapped Africa’s youngest billionaire regains freedom INEC adamant: No late submission of candidates’ lists MASSOB, BIM declare war on APGA over Bianca Ojukwu Anambra Police Command sensitises students on dangers of engaging in social vices Suspended NHIS boss dares Governing Council, stays put in office

 

Most Read NUDE PHOTO OF OMOTOLA JALADE-EKEINDE surfaces online (407,855 views) Nigerian female sex addict opens up, says ‘I like it with both men and women’ (383,035 views) Shameless Genevieve Nnaji exposes breasts in public (315,367 views) Finally named: The full list of friends of Nigerian female sex addict who prowled Facebook (258,204 views) OLUMBA OLUMBA OBU (the one who called himself God) IS DEAD (237,906 views) Igbo scholar disgraces Femi Fani-Kayode •Demolishes claims on Igbo/Yoruba history with facts and figures (224,666 views) Breaking News: POPULAR REVEREND CONVERTS TO ISLAM in Kaduna (Nigeria) (204,466 views) OBJ’s son reported dead in Lagos plane crash •Names of more victims emerge (185,899 views) My wasted years in Olumba Olumba Obu’s Evil Brotherhood (170,668 views) THE FINAL DISGRACE: Igbo scholar unleashes more facts about Igbo/Yoruba history, finishes off Femi Fani-Kayode with second article (166,094 views) Lagos plane crash: Journalist releases victims’ names (161,758 views) Gunmen kill ASP, 2 other police officers in vain bid to kidnap Rivers PDP chieftain (149,509 views)

 

Categories Advertorials (3) African Press Organisation (81) Art & Literature (69) Business & Economy (3,697) Business Verdict (52) Columnists (949) Complaints & Requests (94) Enterprise & Opportunities (207) Entertainment (559) Features (660) Global Business Monitor (304) International (2,550) Interview (165) Live Commentary (28) Love Matters (145) News (39,764) Opinion (1,125) Pidgin (13) Politics (7,310) Religion (881) Sports (1,733) Stock Watch (35) AMA & Al Jazeera Global Update

 

NLNG Prize for Literature 2018

Zenith Zero Balance

CBN banner

Firstmobile banner

 

 

 

NEWS EXPRESS TV

LIBYA vs NIGERIA 2-3 Goals Highlights

 

APO Group Partner

 

 

CLASSIFIED ADS

GOCOP Accredited Member

GOCOP Accredited member

 

 

Africa Media Agency and Al Jazeera

Advertisement