25 May 2018

South Africa: Donated Toilet Set Alight At School Where Girl Drowned in Pit Latrine

Photo: SuSanA Secretariat/Flickr
Abandoned pit latrine in the peri-urban area of Durban, South Africa.

Pupils at the Eastern Cape school where five-year-old Lumka Mketwa drowned in a pit latrine were apparently apprehensive, but quite excited, when four donated portable toilets arrived on the premises over a month ago.

But spirits were dampened when, in a horrible twist, one of the toilets was set alight in what might have been linked to service delivery protests in Bizana.

The flames from the toilet appeared to have melted a portion of the portable unit next to it.

Children and staff at Luna Primary School mourned the loss of the Grade R pupil in March, who was initially reported missing and later found dead after her body lay overnight in the latrine.

Rowan Snyman, the sales manager at Enviro Loo, was moved when he read the story.

The company has been working with government on sanitation in rural schools for the last 20 years, with Snyman saying they had a lot of success in the Limpopo region, but were looking at other areas too.

"We are trying to help where we can and eliminate pit latrines," he told News24 on Thursday night.

He decided to assist the provincial education department by donating newly-developed portable toilets which were waterless and did not need chemicals.

The company usually rented out a portable toilet for around R1 800 a month.

"We went through [to] them (the department) and asked. They were very happy that we helped them out as they are also a bit stretched."

The company also paid for a janitor for six months, pending a more permanent toilet solution.

"The kids were quite traumatised to go to the toilets again," said Snyman.

A photo taken at the school showed a little boy contently perched and posing on the toilet seat in the portable unit, presumably to show how it was done.

Snyman said the damage to the toilets happened at the same time as service delivery protests unfolded in the area.

"I think someone jumped the fence and burnt our toilets. The school had nothing to do with it."

He said the staff were upset at the losses, but he was doing his best to support them.

Regional police spokesperson Captain Edith Mjoko confirmed that a toilet was set alight last week.

"We suspect it is the result of the protest, although we are not sure yet," she said.

Officers were investigating a case of malicious damage to property and no arrests had yet been made.

Source: News24

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