Education MEC must account to Portfolio Committee on Pit Latrines at schools

Issued by Edmund van Vuuren, MPL
Shadow MEC for Education

Eastern Cape Education MEC, Fundile Gade, must be called to account on his Department’s repeated failures to address death trap pit latrines at schools.

How many more innocent lives must we lose before the MEC starts holding his officials accountable and starts taking action?

Parents cannot be tortured by the nightmare of having to lose a child in this horrific way.

The death of four-year-old Langalam Viki, who died in a pit latrine at a school in Vaalbank village near Glen Grey, should never have happened.

These toilets should have been eradicated as promised by the failing ANC government.

In March 2018, five-year-old Lumka Mketwa lost her life after she fell into a pit latrine at Luna Primary School in Bizana.

Since then, MEC Gade’s Department has given over R1.2-billion in infrastructure funding back to Treasury because it failed to spend the money.

  • 2018/19 – R500 million
  • 2019/20 – R134 million
  • 2020/21 – R183 million
  • 2021/22 – R291 million
  • 2022/23 – R100 million

These funds could have eradicated all pit latrines and built hundreds of new classrooms at schools in the Eastern Cape.

In comparison, in the Western Cape, they built an entire school for R40 million within 65 days.

MEC Gade must quantify how many more children must lose their lives before his Department takes action to address death trap pit latrines at schools.

The DA has repeatedly warned the ECDOE about the dangers of the existing pit latrines in schools that are not appropriately sized for grade R and grade 1 learners.

The DA has written to the chairperson of the Education portfolio committee, Mpumelelo Saziwa, on Monday [13 March 2023], requesting an urgent committee meeting summoning MEC Gade and his senior officials to account for failing to eradicate these pit latrines.

Download letter.

Clearly the ANC does not deem this an important issue, as they have yet to respond to our request.

How many more lives must be lost before the uncaring ANC leadership acts?

The DA will continue to fight for the eradication of pit latrines at schools. No child should ever have to fear that they could die, just by going to relieve themselves.