'I feel deeply embarrassed, I'll fix it' - MEC Lesufi on Gauteng school toilets
All pictures courtesy EWN
Sanitation issues are trending across many South African schools, with the death of a six-year-old Limpopo pupil in January 2014, and the Sowetan's recent exposure of issues in Gauteng schools which have left Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi expressing embarrassment over the situation, vowing to address it on the Redi Tlhabi Show:
Let me congratulate the Sowetan for doing a wonderful job - they have done very well. It's just I feel very let down by the system. I had the political will to say that in the first 100 days, we'll take an audit to check which schools are functioning on target. We have 526 schools and the plan to ensure that there's no bucket system in our schools; it was a simple plan and we'd allocated R150 million to fix the problem. Those people who often cry foul to say that with big government contracts, they are not given an opportunity as small players, were given the opportunity to fix our toilets; those are the people that let us down! That's where we are now and I assure you, we will fix this, we've given the deadline of the end of September. There's a clear political will from my side, we don't even have to debate it. I've appointed 10 unemployed women in each and every ward to clean the toilets. I was let down, I feel deeply embarrassed, but I will fix it. I'm not running away from the problem.
Sowetan Editor Mpumelelo Mkhabela outlined some of the key findings of their investigation into Gauteng school toilets:
We discovered a lot of things, at different layers: in some instances, we found that where toilets were working, there were things like no soap available to wash hands or there were taps missing. At another level, we found that the toilets were blocked and they were blocked for a long time, while the department would have said they've just commissioned a maintenance team. In other instance, we found they've found a way to work around these things and we should be saying as a newspaper and as South Africans, this isn't normal, this isn't how it should be.
Listen to the full conversation below