Pit toilets a disaster waiting to happen

About 570 primary school pupils in North West are forced to share eight pit toilets.

This comes as the school's flushing toilets are currently being fixed and the department has not provided them with proper temporary ablution facilities.

Parents are now worried that one day the toilets will sink and hurt their children.

"Those toilets are unsafe and unhygienic for our children. These are primary school
children whose lives are at risk. There are openings in the roof and you see them jumping in and out of the opening, and one wonders what
will happen when they jump inside and fall right into the toilet hole," said a 42-year-old woman.

When Sowetan visited the school yesterday, the toilet floors were wet with urine and some toilet seats had poo stains. The smell was pungent and unbearable.

These are the terrible conditions faced by Mphebatho Primary School pupils in Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria, daily.

A 13-year-old grade 7 pupil said he only uses the toilets when he want to pass urine.

A source at the school said teachers were also using the pit toilets.

"Have you seen the conditions of those toilets. Our dignity is compromised and they are not for human use," she said.

A teacher at the school said their toilets had to be revamped about two months ago because pipes were stolen.

"Unfortunately, they did not provide us with temporary toilets and we are now back into using these pit latrines," the teacher said.

A school official who cannot be named because he is not allowed to speak to the media, suggested there were business people influencing parents to complaint.

"The complaints by parents have nothing to do with pupils, but it is in the interest of some business people whose focus is in the construction that is happening at the school.

"Why complain about pit toilets now when there is construction [happening]?" he asked.

"If they wanted us to have temporary toilets, we could be having them," the official added.

North West education department spokesperson Elias Malindi said the issue of the toilets at the school had already been attended to.

"There is construction of the new toilets which is almost complete, doors are to be installed and water to be connected."

"The entire school is under renovation, which includes roofs, walls, doors, toilets and many more areas that need attention," said Malindi.

Victims of pit latrines:

In 2014, six-year-old Michael Komape, pictured, drowned when he fell into a pit latrine toilet at his school in Chebeng village in Limpopo.

Last year, Lumka Mketwa, five, fell into a pit latrine at her school, Luna Primary School in Bizana, and drowned.

After Lumka's death, the minister of basic education Angie Motshekga admitted that pit latrines at schools were a serious hazard.

Early this year, Motshekga said there was a plan for pit toilets to be eradicated within a space of two years.

SA has more than 23,000 public schools and almost half still use pit latrines. 

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