The tragic death of a five year-old-child using a pit toilet at her Mbizana school in the Eastern Cape has evoked anger as the country celebrates human rights month.
Lumka Mkhethwa was buried at her home in Nyaka village. The latest death comes three years after a similar death in Limpopo.
“I’m very hurt to lose my child. As a mother it really hurtful especially the way she passed and there’s nothing I can do,” said the girl’s mother, Mandisa Mkhethwa.
“I was called at work and told my daughter has passed I was really hurt. Even going to town I would take her and did everything with her,” said the father, Vuyani Mkhethwa.
The department has assisted with the costs of the funeral.
“I’ve instructed the department to pay a visit to the family because I have yet had the opportunity to get there. I only heard about this on Wednesday. I was phoned by the district director to say can you visit the school, assemble a team of the department,arrange counselling for these learners at school and thirdly quick investigation as to what really happened, “said provincial education MEC, Mandla Makuphula.
Equal Education has lambasted the education department for dragging its feet in addressing the infrastructure challenges in rural schools. It says it’s been raising these until it approached the courts.
Close to two-thousand Eastern Cape schools use pit latrine toilets. Thirty seven have no toilets at all.
The South African Human Rights Commission has initiated an investigation into the girl’s death. Also the appalling state of many schools in the province.
The Presidency has directed Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga to conduct an audit of all learning facilities with unsafe structures, especially unsafe ablution facilities, within a month.
Within three months, she must present the President with a plan to rectify the challenge as an emergency interim measure.
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