The Limpopo government is looking into the fact that pit latrines are still being used in the province, but it’s too little too late for the family of three-year-old Omari Monono who died after falling into one of these toilets last week.
“We are struggling as a family. We don’t know how we will manage to buy food for people who will come to the funeral let alone bury my nephew. It is really difficult, we have no money to bury him,” said Samuel Monono, who is the uncle of the boy.
The toddler allegedly fell into the pit toilet at Moletjie in Ditenteng near Knobel Hospital.
A statement released by the Democratic Alliance Women’s Network (Dawn) said that they would offer condolences to the family and would support them during a difficult time.
Desiree Van De Walt, provincial chairperson of Dawn in Limpopo, said they wanted to reach out to the family on this sad occasion.
“We felt the family would need some form of counselling. There are other small children in the family; parents, aunts and grandparents too, and professional help for them is crucial right now,” she said.
The organisation said it was appalling that more than 4.3million households in South Africa still rely on pit latrines, while 49.5% of households have toilets in their yards and 409 881 households have no sanitation at all.
Van De Walt added that the municipality’s role had to be acknowledged.
“The municipality delivered new toilets in the area but did not demolish the old pit toilets. The issue must be raised that the old ones should have been demolished.
“Limpopo has a history of children falling in pit toilets and this is not reflective of our democracy. In this day and age, this should not be happening,” she said.
Monono said that he could not recall when exactly the pit toilet in question was built.
“It was a long time ago. Each house was building its own outside toilet. The government did bring new toilets, but we did not use them because the old ones were still there. We are hoping for better water and sanitation, proper housing and better infrastructure in general,” he said.
Monono said the family had been waiting for an autopsy to be conducted before they could bury the child.
“We were hoping to bury him this weekend, but we are still waiting,” he added.
Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe of the Limpopo police said they were investigating the death of the child.
“It is alleged that the little boy went to his aunt’s place across the street where he usually plays. His aunt took off his clothes and left him to relieve himself outside the toilet as usual. She was busy with her house chores when she noticed she had not seen the toddler for some time,” he said.
Ngoepe said the three-year-old could not be found by his aunt.
“She searched for him without success until she reported the matter to the police. They responded quickly and a search operation commenced until the deceased was found inside the pit toilet,” added Ngoepe.
Monono’s death follows an incident where six-year-old Michael Komape died in a pit toilet at Mahlodumela Primary School in Chebeng Village outside Polokwane in January 2014.
It was reported that Komape died as a result of inhaling excrement, urine and other rotten substances.
Acting chief director of the department of water and sanitation in the Limpopo province said that the matter will be looked into.
“The matter will be attended to together with the municipality and information about the plan forward will be made available,” he said.
Limpopo’s cooperative governance and traditional affairs department, and the human settlements department, were contacted for comment but had yet responded at the time of publication.