Toddler’s pit toilet death sparks fury

Little Unecebo Mboteni fell into the toilet at his crèche in Unit 6 in Mdantsane

Little Unecebo Mboteni fell into the toilet at his crèche in Unit 6 in Mdantsane

Published Apr 25, 2024


The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has launched an investigation into the tragic death of a three-year-old toddler who died after falling into a pit toilet.

Little Unecebo Mboteni fell into the toilet at his crèche in Unit 6 in Mdantsane on April 18.

Police spokesperson Priscilla Naidoo said they were alerted to the incident after the toddler’s death.

“It is alleged that on April 18, a three-year-old boy fell into a pit toilet at his crèche in Unit 6 in Mdantsane.

The child was taken to hospital and died on April 19. The matter was only reported to police after his death. An inquest docket was opened,” said Naidoo.

Eileen Carter, from the SAHRC Eastern Cape office, said the case was opened after they were alerted to the tragedy and following a site visit on Wednesday.

“The commission confirms having been notified of this incident on Monday, whereafter it resolved to open an own accord investigation through its offices in the Eastern Cape. The commission further confirms having conducted a site inspection, led by its Commissioner Nomahlubi Khwinana, the focus area Commissioner for Children within the SAHRC.

“The commission will proceed to consolidate any further and related complaints it receives into its current and pending investigation, as determined by its Complaints Handling Procedures,” said Carter.

Eastern Cape Department of Education MEC, Fundile Gade, said they were saddened by the incident at the crèche at a privately run non-profit organisation called Little Champions in Mdantsane, Buffalo City Education District.

Gade said: “The loss of a life, especially at such a young age, is indeed one of the most devastating incidents, not only to the family and the centre management but the entire Eastern Cape community.”

Gade said “irrespective of the fact that the child was under the management of the above-mentioned centre, the department is committed to support the parents and entire staff during this difficult time” and has activated its psychosocial support services to provide debriefing and counselling services to all the traumatised.

“The department does play a critical role of providing funding for these institutions and focuses on three modalities, namely school nutrition, stimulation equipment for the children and payment of stipends for the employees or caregivers.

“The department will further provide guidance to the centre to ensure that it adheres to the guidelines provided by government for the safety of children under their care at all material times and this should be coupled with capacity building of the centre management and staff in general. Critical is to avoid re-occurrence of these kinds of incidents in the future,” said Gade.

DA shadow minister for education, Baxolile Nodada, lashed at the education department for issuing an operation certificate to the crèche despite it having a pit toilet.

“This unnecessary death has occurred as a result of government’s abject failure and laissez-faire approach to removing pit toilets... Had the department done its job properly, it would have ensured the pit toilet had been removed prior to awarding any certificate. The department has continuously been disingenuous when it comes to removing pit toilets in provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and Limpopo,” said Nodada.

Cape Times