In September 2019, the Eastern Cape High Court (East London) has issued an order, by agreement, in an urgent application concerning inadequate sanitation facilities at three Eastern Cape schools. The order followed an agreement reached by the Equal Education Law Centre, representing the three schools (“the Applicants”), and the Eastern Cape Department of Education (“the Department”). The Applicants approached the court on an urgent basis owing to the dire state of sanitation facilities at their schools.

Learners and educators at Dalaguba Junior Secondary School did not have safe, usable toilets and had resorted to relieving themselves outside. Whilst toilets were due to be built for the school in 2013/14, the contractor failed to complete the necessary work. Zanewonga Senior Secondary School lacked an adequate water supply at the school, with a borehole project initiated in 2017 having been left unfinished. The schools thus primarily relied on untreated river water. Ngqwara Primary School lacked an adequate water supply and its learners have still been using dilapidated and dangerous plain pit latrines. Five toilets had been built to complement the plain pit latrines but two were structurally unsound. Whilst the Department initially opposed the application, it acknowledged the parlous state of ablution facilities and the absence of potable water at the Applicant schools. Accordingly, the parties committed to finding a resolution to the matter which would ensure dignified and adequate sanitation and water supply at all of the schools. Following engagement, the Department agreed to ensure both temporary and long-term sanitation to all three schools. The agreement has been made an order of court, with specific timelines for implementation and reporting.

The EELC is monitoring the implementation of the order, which vindicates the rights of approximately 600 learners in the three schools as well as those of educators and other school stakeholders.

Click below to view relevant court papers