School’s filthy toilet crisis

2008-05-28 00:00

A Richmond school is on the brink of closure because the appalling state of its toilets poses a health hazard to its pupils.

The KwaZulu-Natal Health Department has ordered Indala High to clean its filthy toilets or close its doors.

The toilets are over-flowing and pupils have at times relieved themselves on the floor inside the cubicles.

The school has 1 535 pupils. Pupils and teachers are now sharing a single functioning toilet. The school gates are always locked and pupils cannot go to nearby houses to relieve themselves.

The overwhelming stench from the toilets hangs over the grounds. The smell emanates from the heaps of faeces and urine that have dried under the sun on the toilet floors. The school has only one cleaner to maintain classrooms, toilets and the grounds.

Pietermaritzburg-based cleaning company Bulalamagciwane, owned by Stuart Knight, was hired to clean the toilets and he accused the Education Department of having failed to provide for the maintenance of the toilets.

“I was told that the school will be closed down if the mess is not cleaned out. When I arrived there, I was taken aback. It’s the biggest hazard I have ever seen in 30 years in this job and no children should be allowed to live and learn under such conditions.”

But he said it was not the first time he has been called to clean such a mess. “I was in this school two years ago to clean the same toilets and by the looks of things they have not been cleaned since. I don’t think cleaning is the only solution — these toilets also need maintenance. The department should also educate children about hygiene and how to keep toilets clean.”

Knight said he has been to other schools in the district that are experiencing similar problems.

“I have shown the KZN Education MEC [Ina Cronjé] pictures of these toilets and told her that the situation needs to be addressed, but nothing has been done. The department needs to wake up … they are killing other people’s children …”

Knight has challenged the department to come up with a permanent solution. “Until the department has come up with some format I will not clean that mess.”

The Education Department could not respond to the questions. KZN Education spokeswoman Mbali Thusi said the department is not aware of the problem, but will investigate.

sandilez@witness.co.za

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