Pupils drown in pit toilet

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

Two pupils at Hlalakahle Primary School, near Manyeleti Game Reserve in Mpumalanga, drowned in a faeces-filled pit toilet that was not built to standard on last Thursday at about 10am.

The incident took place when a poorly constructed toilet floor gave in to the weight of the eight pupils while they were relieving themselves.

"It was during break and our teacher told us to go to the toilet since she thought we would urinate on ourselves if we didn't.

"But when we got into the toilet the slab let go and all eight of us went down," said one of the surviving boys, Movement Mathebula, 6, who was speaking from his bed at Tintswalo Hospital in Acornhoek yesterday.

His parents, Glacier Malope, 24, and Petro Mathebula, 26, said they were grateful to God that their son survived the ordeal.

The couple promised to do all in their power to sue either the school or the provincial education department for damages.

The devastated family of one of the dead girls, Dimpho Ngobeni, 5, said they were too poor to afford a lawyer to sue the education department.

When approached for comment, the school's principal, Jane Makhubela, said she was too busy with visitors and had no time to talk to journalists.

Mpumalanga education department spokesman Hlahla Ngwenya's cellphone was frequently on voice-mail and he failed to return messages Sowetan left on it.