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Burial set for Saturday for 5-year-old who died in school pit latrine

By Afikile Lugunya - Mar 16, 2018
Burial set for Saturday for 5-year-old who died in school pit latrine

Eastern Cape MEC for Education, Mandla Makupula, on Friday said that he was saddened by the death of 5-year-old Viwe Jali after she fell into a pit laterite at the Luna Primary School in Mbizana in Bizana on Tuesday.

Makupula addressed the media at Pine Lodge, in Port Elizabeth, and said that Jali will be buried on Saturday and the Department would support her family during this time.

“I wish the educators could have noticed when a 5-year-old has asked for permission to go to the toilet and somebody could have done something to assist the child,” he added.

According to reports, the 5-year-old disappeared on Monday at the school, but her body was found on Wednesday.

Apparently, the teachers didn’t even notice that the child had disappeared. It was the scholar transport driver, who noticed the her missing when he arrived to pick up the kids.

 Makupula also thanked the caretaker, who took the boy’s body out of the pit.

He said the Jali's family wanted the child buried soon as they are distraught at the manner in which he died.

“The family said that they don’t want to wait because of how the little girl died we as the department of education we are committed to giving our support,” he described.

Makupula said that after hearing of the incident, he sent the Department of Education district director to visit the school and arrange counselling for everyone affected by the tragedy.

He added that they are busy investigating facts to find out what really led to this tragedy and how do they ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

“We are very much aware that there are several schools that are still using pit lotteries in the rural Eastern Cape; obviously if I had resources to make all the schools have flushing toilets I would have done it long time ago,” Makuphula said.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA), said the incident must be a wake-up call to the Department of Education to rid schools of pit latrines.

“The horrific drowning of a child in a latrine on Tuesday must serve as a wake-up call to Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, and MEC Makupula to stop making excuses about budget constraints because they cannot spend the money,” said Edmund van Vuuren, the DA’s Eastern Cape Shadow MEC for Education.

“The ANC-led government must act now to sort out the infrastructure mess at schools in the Eastern Cape.

“This incident highlights the extent of our broken province and the urgent need to fix it.

“It is ghastly that a family has suffered the loss of a child while the powers that be are blissfully lethargic – year in and year out --  about the appalling conditions and lack of infrastructure and dignified sanitation at so many of our schools.”

Van Vuuren added:

  • Last year, the national Department of Basic Education once more failed to spend the Schools Infrastructure Backlogs Grant for the Eastern Cape. This means R415-million or 26% of the R1.574-billion that was allocated to the province went unspent.
  • Only on Wednesday, education MEC Makupula announced in his budget and policy speech in the provincial legislature that the budget for school infrastructure had been slashed by 11%, despite the huge backlogs.
  •  In the media on Thursday, the National Council of Province (NCOP) were reported to lament the shortcomings in schools infrastructure that continues to plague the province, They were informed that there are still 32 mud schools in the Alfred Nzo West area. Mbizana falls in this district.
  • On Wednesday, we saw the start of a Bhisho High Court case between Equal Education and the Department of Education to compel the department to meet the infrastructure target to fix schools, which was meant to have been completed by November 2016. 

“How many more children must die needlessly, how many court cases must be held, how many more of our children will be left in the poverty trap because they are not given the benefits of a decent education?" he added.

“While the Superintendent-General of the provincial Department of Education, Themba Kojana, and the NCOP-delegation, who are currently in the province have been swift in visiting the family of the child, who died in Mbizana, a courtesy visit will hardly alleviate the needless suffering of our learners.

“What we need is action.”

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