Johannesburg 6 March, 2019 – SECTION27 is disturbed by the allegations of corruption perpetrated by the Limpopo Education MEC Ishmael Kgetjepe and condemns such corruption in the strongest terms possible because of its impact on the continued violation of the rights of learners. A recent City Press report has revealed that an audit of Mvula Trust uncovered that Ishmael Kgetjepe was the recipient of over 1 million rand from the Trust.

Mvula Trust is an NGO that was contracted to build toilets in rural Limpopo, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga schools as part of ASIDI in 2012. It is estimated that the money paid to Kgetjepe could have been used to build toilets in at least 17 schools. This information came to light as a result of an independent audit report commissioned by Mvula Trust for the year 2017/2018.

SECTION27 has been working to improve the dire sanitation circumstances of schools in Limpopo since 2012. It was as a result of our intervention in respect of school sanitation in the Province that government agreed to the development of a plan for the construction of new sanitation at 111 priority schools to be followed by a plan to eradicate pit toilets in Limpopo.  In 2013, government further passed the norms and standards regulations which required the eradication of pit toilets by 28 November 2016.

In October last year, SECTION27 released a report that highlighted the inadequate progress by government in fixing Limpopo school sanitation and its impact on learners in the province’s schoolsOur report covers the period within which the MEC Kgetjepe is alleged to have been receiving monies from the Trust.

In 2014, 5 year old Michael Komape fell into a dilapidated pit toilet at school in Limpopo and died. In 2018, Lumka Mketwa fell into a pit toilet at an Eastern Cape school and died.  Government has consistently asserted that that the reasons for their inability to provide safe and decent toilets for learners immediately is due to the lack of funds. The role of corruption in the lack of delivery is therefore particularly deplorable.

The MEC as a state official has the responsibility to ensure that learners enjoy their full constitutional rights to basic education and dignity.  Government failure to take responsibility to provide safe sanitation and act with the necessary urgency is precisely what led to deaths of Michael Komape and Lumka Mketwa.

We trust that government will act swiftly in light of the damning Mvula Trust report and that the authorities take appropriate actions to ensure accountability. These actions must include the necessary sanctions against the MEC so that no more learners die or are injured as a result of corrupt dealings between politicians and /or government officials in the procurement of the services necessary for the improvement of the lives of the poorest South Africans.