Officials stall on boarding houses

2008-12-10 00:00

The school year is over and the fate of some illegal boarding houses in the city still seems uncertain, despite the fact that The Witness first reported on this matter in April.

The report of a recent meeting between officials of the Msunduzi Municipality and the departments of Social Development and Education “noted with great concern that hostel accommodation is available in some schools in Pietermaritzburg and yet under-utilised”.

It also noted that “there should be planning for 2009 to ensure that these problems do not continue”. It also recorded “the urgency of the matter, and that action should have been taken a long time ago”.

However, the only action recorded in the report was to be taken by school principals who were to provide the municipality with lists of boarding houses known to them and details of parents of children staying in boarding houses.

According to a municipal spokesperson, several boarding houses have complied with municipal regulations that limit to 14 the number of children that may be accommodated and have registered to operate next year. The municipality is considering applications from several others for special consent to house more than 14 boarders.

The spokesperson for the Social Development Department said the matter has been referred to the MEC.

Kogulan Chetty, the attorney for the boarding house owners’ representative body, Sizanani Boarding Association, said neither he nor his clients have heard anything from the municipality “since the last debacle”.

He was referring to a meeting called by the departments of Social Development and Education in October, for which the relevant government officials failed to turn up. Boarding house owners, Chetty and a representative of the municipality were kept waiting for 20 minutes before being told that the meeting had been postponed.

In September, government and municipal officials threatened to close boarding houses by the end of this year if they do not comply with municipal regulations.

This followed investigations by social workers into 21 boarding houses that found unacceptable conditions to be common.

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