ACDP Member of Parliament Cheryllyn Dudley today said that “The ACDP is angered to hear we have lost another child in this horrific manner on our watch as a Parliament responsible for the oversight of the Education Department”.

Viwe Jali, a 5-year-old learner from the Luna Primary School in Bizana, Eastern Cape, fell into a pit latrine on Tuesday and died.

“The ACDP sends heartfelt condolences to Viwe’s parents and family. Your grief must be unbearable.  We pray you will experience the peace and comfort of our Lord Jesus,” Dudley said. “We note the response of the department and are glad to hear counselling services are being provided to the school.”

A case has been opened with the local police at the Mzamba Police Station and investigations are proceeding into the circumstances surrounding little Viwe’s death.

“Infrastructure backlogs are a serious challenge but unsafe structures and those without decent sanitation, electricity and water must be acknowledged as crisis situations and be responded to with far greater urgency.”

Minister Motshekga expressed her anguish saying, “Words cannot express the pain I personally feel at the loss of a young life in this horrific way. To know that as a sector we have not been able to address these infrastructure issues fast enough, for a number of reasons, breaks my heart.

When a tragedy like this occurs it makes us more resolute of the continued need for the Accelerated School Infrastructure initiative (ASIDI) so that we can continue to fast track these schools that are in desperate need of infrastructure and make them safe havens for our children”.

5 225 maintenance projects are presently under way around the country and the Eastern Cape has already exhausted its maintenance budget.

“This is not good news especially as we are facing huge budget cuts as a country and the needs grow daily,” Dudley said. “It is some comfort however that provinces have been compelled to set aside funding for maintenance because some provinces were not budgeting for it and letting schools become more and more dilapidated.”

The Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) has delivered 191 schools to date, of those 141 have been in the Eastern Cape replacing inappropriate structures. The initiative has also provided water to 666, sanitation to 453 and electricity to 372 sites around the country with the majority of these projects being in the Eastern Cape. This excludes schools built by the provinces through their Education Infrastructure Grant.

15 March 2018