School hit by copper theft again

2014-04-11 00:00

A CITY school has been hit by copper thieves three times this year and on Wednesday had to be closed for some of the repairs.

Copper pipes and taps were stolen from Woodlands Primary School on Saturday, supposedly to be sold for scrap. A parent complained that the closure of the school disturbed the learning and teaching process there. The school re-opened yesterday.

She said the worst thing was that the department was not acting fast enough in repairing the vandalised facilities, which could lead to a possible outbreak of illness as the school has more than 1 070 pupils.

“The pupils rely on two taps that were not damaged on Saturday and only a quarter of the toilets are in working order,” she said.

A concerned teacher said the problem should have been fixed immediately and the paperwork filled out later, because the lack of sanitation placed the pupils’ health at risk.

“We could have a diarrhoea outbreak with the current conditions but we cannot close the school as this has a knock-on effect because we would be behind the curriculum which will then affect the children,” he said.

He said they were receiving support from the Mountain Rise police station regarding the matter and hopefully those behind the vandalism will be caught soon.

KwaZulu-Natal Education Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said the theft of water pipes and taps was a social ills challenge confronting the department. “Not so long ago in March we were fixing the very same problem at the same school. In the interests of the pupils we will be repairing the toilets and taps using different material which we use in schools where the problem of copper theft is rife,” he said, adding while this was costly for the department, it was a sustainable solution.

KwaZulu-Natal Public Works Department spokesperson Mbulelo Baloyi said seeing that this seems to be a recurring problem owing to the fact that the stolen items are sold at scrapyards, they would replace the water pipes with PVC (plastic) instead of copper.

“We are mindful of the disruption of the teaching and learning process and we hope to expedite the effecting of repairs either tomorrow [today] or by close of business on Monday as we have to follow our supply chain management processes in procuring the repair material,” said Baloyi.

He said they would be alerting scrapyards nearby to comply with the Sale of Second Hand Goods Act, so that whoever sells the copper plumbing parts must furnish their contact details to help trace the seller.

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