Toilets made of 'cheapest' material

Toilet sign
Toilet sign

The pit latrine in which Michael Komape died was made from the cheapest corrugated metal on the market.

This was according to civil engineer David Still, who testified yesterday in the Limpopo High Court on the ongoing civil lawsuit case against Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

The family of Komape, a Grade R pupil who fell and drowned inside a pit latrine during 2014, is demanding that the state pay them about R3-million in damages for the five-year-old's death.

The education department built new toilets at Mahlodumela Primary School in Chebeng village after Komape's death stirred public outcry.

Yesterday, Still gave evidence on the condition of the toilets based on analysis of photographs taken on the day Komape's body was discovered.

He said over time, such material tended to rot, which placed the lives of pupils in danger. Furthermore the frames around the seating area of the toilets were also rusty, which was unsanitary.

Still also produced letters and requisitions which reflected that the principal had alerted the department about toilet issues as far back as 2004.

He said in 2009 the principal and the school treasurer authorised R4600 to build four temporary toilet structures.

He said the temporary structures were over four-years-old by the time Komape died inside one of them.

Still said the department was aware of sanitation problems in the province, which is why they had spent R718-million to build 10500 new toilets.

However, he said the problem was that there was a lack of proper management and accountability in the maintenance of structures.

He said authorities had been negligent, adding that the toilets should have been "condemned" long before Komape's death.

 Still said in Limpopo, 63% of principals reported that they believed toilets were unsafe for pupils, while only one in 10 toilets was cleaned regularly.

He said pit toilets were found in a dilapidated state with missing seats and doors and they were often situated far away from the classrooms.

Still said even teachers reported that they never entered those toilets.

The trial continues.

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