Komape family wins case to eradicate pit toilets
The Limpopo High Court handed down judgment in favour of the Komape family on Friday, with an order compelling the state to provide, within 90 days, a detailed list of all schools in the province with pit toilets, along with plans to eradicate them, reports News24.
The defendants in the case – the Limpopo Department of Education and the national Department of Basic Education – have also been ordered to show how the funds for this programme would be sourced, and to explain what interim measures would be implemented ‘to address schools' urgent sanitation needs and immediate safety risks, pending the delivery of permanent sanitation measures’.
Michael Komape was five when he drowned in a pit toilet at Mahlodumela Primary School in Chebeng Village, Polokwane, in January 2014.
The case threw a spotlight on the provincial Education Department and the use of pit toilets in some 1 500 schools across Limpopo.
Public sector law firm Section27, which provided legal support to the Komape family, welcomed Judge Gerrit Muller's judgment, saying: ‘The judgment is a vindication of the rights of learners in Limpopo to safe and dignified sanitation.’
The case was first heard in 2017.
The Komape family initially lost their claim for damages in the High Court, but this was overturned in the SCA in 2019 when they were awarded R1.4m.
The second part of the 2017 case dealt with the family's request for a structural order directing the state departments to supply each school in Limpopo with safe and dignified toilets.
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