School without power after syndicate hot-wires homes in Swapo

2012-08-23 00:00

PARENTS have been found stealing electricity from their children’s school. The school, with about 1 200 pupils, has been without power for six weeks.

When Msilinga Primary School was built in the middle of Ezinketheni informal settlement in Swapo near Copesville, the principal and teachers approached Eskom for a mini-substation to provide the school with electricity so that the children could use computers and work in better-lit classrooms.

However, about two years ago, according to sources in the area , a syndicate began operating offering electricity to the informal settlers in exchange for payment.

They started connecting cables from the mini-substation outside the school, running the cables along the side of the gravel road to nearby homes. The result is that the school has experienced constant power outages, culminating in the one that has lasted for six weeks.

All appeals to the municipality have fallen on deaf ears.

“It is like the Limpopo textbook saga,” said a source.

“The municipality is totally indifferent to whether these children get a proper education or not.”

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Brian Zuma said people in the informal settlements near the school stole electricity, to their children’s detriment.

Zuma said on Tuesday that the municipality would be sending technicians to look at the problem, but yesterday he was unavailable to explain why it had taken so long to fix the transformer and the school still had no power.

Said a teacher who asked not to be named: “Since Monday our principal has had to borrow a generator so we can catch up with school work. We now have to buy petrol to run the generator.”

Another teacher said that without electricity the school could not process worksheets for the pupils.

Pupils are in danger of being electrocuted because live cables lie exposed along the gravel road that they walk along to school.

Area councillor Jay Singh said he had reported the matter to Mayor Chris Ndlela and the municipal manager, Mxolisi Nkosi, and had records of all the reports, but nothing had been done.

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