Date: Jul 24, 2020

South Africa: Government must use the pause in schooling to fix failing and inadequate infrastructure and sanitation

In response to the government’s decision to close schools once again, Shenilla Mohamed, Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa, said:

“120 days into lockdown, we again call on the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to be transparent, accountable, and progressive in ensuring that every school has access to safe, sufficient, and reliable water and sanitation.  

The DBE must work urgently with the Department of Water and Sanitation to ensure that all schools in South Africa have access to water and sanitation without delay. After years of repeated failings and missed targets, there is no better time to fix South Africa’s poor education infrastructure. The empty schools provide the perfect opportunity for workers to build and install proper infrastructure in schools without risking their health.

Learners and staff cannot be expected to again return to schools in inadequate conditions. It is a life or death situation, and the safety of learners, teachers, support staff, parents, and communities must be put at the core of the government’s response.”


Amnesty International South Africa’s campaign, Right To Water: Turn On The Tap, calls for the government to recognise that many people in South Africa are denied their constitutional right to water, and to publicly commit to providing equal access to water for everyone – now and always.

Take action here and tell the government to #TurnOnTheTap.


Mienke Steytler, Media and Digital Content Officer, Amnesty International South Africa: +27 (0)64 890 9224;