TERRORISM ACTS SUSPECTED after high schools burnt

2019-01-23 06:02
PHOTOS: suppliedOne of the classrooms that was damaged at Bathembu High.

PHOTOS: suppliedOne of the classrooms that was damaged at Bathembu High.

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KWAZULU-NATAL MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development Themba Mthembu suspects that the arson attacks that happened at two high schools, one in Msinga, Umzinyathi District and the other in Pietermaritzburg could be linked to ‘terrorism acts’.

Mthembu was speaking during the department’s school monitoring and evaluation oversight visits at Msinga last week.

Bathembu High School in Msinga was set on fire on January 6 — two days before schools opened.

An administration block was torched. Textbooks and other office equipment that were inside the office were burnt.

Another high school in Pietermaritzburg, Mvuzo High in the France Township, was damaged, also in a suspected arson attack.

According to the information received, an unknown vehicle was seen at the premises of Bathembu High prior to the incident.

Mthembu said: “It was shocking to see the manner in which the school [Bathembu High] was torched.

“It’s clear that as government there’s a lot that we need to be looking at after these incidents.

“We will write a letter to the President [Cyril Ramaphosa] and ensure that he takes these incidents of damaging community and government properties as acts of terrorism.

“We suspect that these incidents are linked to terrorism. As government we are taking this matter very seriously.”

Mthembu called for urgent intervention for the school to be fixed and made conducive for learning.

He also called on the community to work with police to ensure that the perpetrators are arrested.

Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said: “The complainant alleged that on January 6 he received information that the school was on fire.

“Upon arrival, he noticed that the roof and stationery was damaged by unknown people.

“A case of malicious damage to property was opened at Msinga Police Station for investigation.”

The police could not confirm if both incidents are linked to terrorism.

Gwala added that no arrests have been made.

The ward councillor was not available to provide a comment at the time of going to press.

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