‘It’s more than a disaster here’

2010-02-14 12:24

A NINE-YEAR-OLD sits quietly on a bench, blood dripping onto her

white school shirt. Just a few centimetres higher and the tent pole that smashed

into her head would have hit her in her face.

A teacher leads another pupil into the room with blood dripping

from his face. “Nosebleed,” she says.

‘‘Children have been fainting all day,’’ says Monica Basiwe, the

principal of the Nomkolokoto Junior Secondary School in the Mount Frere


Basiwe decides the nine-year-old’s injuries are serious and she

must go to a clinic – not an easy task when you are in a village in the

mountains of the Eastern Cape.

A tornado had struck the school on October 25, a Sunday. When staff

and pupils arrived the next day, it was to a disaster zone.

The Alfred Nzo Municipality eventually delivered four tents last

month, which offer no relief from the relentless heat. Pupils sit listlessly

waiting for the school bell to ring. A slight breeze picks up. The tents sway


Basiwe decides she might as well let the children go home. ‘‘It’s

so hot just standing here, what about being in a tent for the whole blessed day.

The culture of learning and teaching is ineffective, we are just forcing the


“It’s more than a disaster here.’’

Basiwe says after the tornado, ­education officials came to the

school and promised that prefab structures would be erected from January 29 to


‘‘We are still waiting.’’

She says the biggest irony is that in December a representative of

a company had arrived on their doorstep saying they had been hired by the

department to build a permanent structure.‘‘We were so happy then.’’

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