Another senseless death as 3-year-old child drowns in pit latrine

Another senseless death as 3-year-old child drowns in pit latrine

A three-year-old child, Unecebo Mboteni, has tragically lost his life after allegedly drowning in a pit latrine at the Little Champions Day Care Centre in Mdantsane, East London, last week.

I am heartbroken at this senseless loss of life, and I extend my deepest and most sincere condolences to his family. It is a tragedy that this young boy’s life was cut short in such an inhumane way.

I am also furious that yet another child has lost his life in a pit latrine while the President, the Premier and the Eastern Cape MEC of Education all continue to pay lip service to the problem and fail to act. The ANC-led government’s continued lack of action has cost another child his life and destroyed another family.

It is simply unacceptable that our children are exposed to death trap pit latrines in this day and age. Why must our children die in human filth?

It is reported that one of the teachers noted Unecebo’s absence on Thursday, and they found him inside the pit latrine. He was rushed to hospital but died the following day.

As this private institution receives a state subsidy, the Department has a duty to ensure that places like this comply with safety standards.

In response to a parliamentary question late last year, Education MEC Fundile Gade revealed that based on 2023 enrolment figures, 113,041 learners at 427 schools across the province still use pit latrines.

These toilets have proven to be death traps, especially for younger learners, as they can easily fall through into the pits below. Of the 427 schools listed, 141 are primary schools.

While this creche is privately owned, it receives a subsidy from the Education Department. I will be writing to the Portfolio Committee chair for Education, Mpumelelo Saziwa, to request that a full report on this matter be provided to the committee, including details of all funding provided and the compliance checks conducted before such funding was released.

While nothing will bring little Unecebo back, we need to ensure that if there is proven negligence, those responsible must be held to account.

The DA will continue to fight for our children to be given the dignity of modern ablution facilities at their schools and that pit latrines are eradicated across the province. Only a DA government can rescue the children of this province from these death traps.