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Amnesty International – Open letter to Motshekga on safe sanitation after child dies in school pit latrine

Hannah Omarjee | homarjee@radioislam.co.za
13 March 2023 | 11:45 AM CAT
2 min read

Photo Credit: BBC

Amnesty International wrote an open letter to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga over a month ago requesting the department keep its commitment to eradicate pit toilets in all public schools by the end of this financial year and provide accurate and transparent updates on the progress.

Speaking to Radio Islam International today, Amnesty International South Africa’s Mienke Steytler said, “They haven’t given any feedback. They have a system that acknowledges that they’ve received the letter.”

The recent tragic incident in the Eastern Cape, where a four-year-old girl drowned in a pit toilet at school, prompted Amnesty International to go public to engage with the department. The department responded, saying the little girl had gone to the wrong toilet, absolving themselves of any fault. But Amnesty International says there shouldn’t have been a pit toilet in the first place.

After nearly three decades since attaining democracy, South African children still drown in this undignified and unacceptable manner. The department acknowledges a problem but says this infrastructure dates back to the Apartheid era.

Steytler said, “The department drew up regulations in 2013 that said they would identify all the pit toilets across the whole of the country at schools by 2016 and eradicate them by 2020. We are now in 2023, of course, there was a pandemic, so we did make space for that, but for us as well, it also comes down to that they make their own deadlines. Minister Motshekga said in parliament that the pit toilets will be eradicated by the end of the 2022/2023 financial year, and we want an update. ”

Amnesty International believes safe sanitation is a matter of life, death, and a fundamental human right.

Listen to the full interview here.


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