School owes municipality R2 million

2019-05-01 06:00
PHOTO: Kerushan pillayCopesville Secondary School pupils during a protest on Monday.

PHOTO: Kerushan pillayCopesville Secondary School pupils during a protest on Monday.

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VIOLENCE erupted at Copesville Secondary School on Monday as protesting pupils closed the school gate and started throwing stones at teachers’ cars.

The protesting pupils demanded that electricity be reconnected and water be restored at the school so that they could continue learning.

The school has allegedly been without water and the electricity since March 29 after the municipality halted those services. The disconnections are due to the school owing the municipality just over R2 million for water and electricity, which was confirmed by Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha.

“Before the disconnection, a notice was sent and an arrangement was made but they [the school] did not commit to the instalment,” said Mafumbatha.

Pupils said they have not been learning since the term started due to this problem and they want to go back to classes now.

“We would go to school and the teachers will come and sit in the office and not come to class. We will then be sent home early and be told that it’s because the school does not have water and electricity.

“We are so behind with our school work and we do not know how we are going to catch up. We did not even know that the school was owing the municipality,” said a grade 12 pupil who did not want to be named.

Another pupil added: “On June 4 I begin my examinations — how am I going to catch up on all the work that I missed?”

On Monday evening, after the protest, school principal Themba Xulu and Ward Councillor Sphamandla Madlala called a parents meeting to address the matter.

Speaking at the meeting, Xulu said he has been trying to resolve the matter with the municipality since April 2 but the municipality was refusing to reconnect the school’s electricity and restore their water.

“After that we held a meeting with management and teachers and we then decided to pay R10 000 to the municipality but that did not help as they still refused to reconnect us,” he said, adding that leaking and bursting water pipes are issues that have contributed to the municipal bill being so high.

He said the school has experienced problems with burst pipes since it was officially opened in April 2001.

“There is a burst pipe everyday at Copesville Secondary because the contractors who built the school did not do a good job since they were not monitored by the engineers. This means that the school’s water bill will always be high every month and every year due to leaking water pipes,” he said.

Xulu said he has been trying to report this problem to the education department but the department does not assist. He added that, in some situations, he would use money that was meant to pay for water to hire a plumber to fix the leaking pipes.

“There are some pipes that the school cannot repair by themselves if they are leaking because they were constructed by the department’s company. You need to contact the department and they need to send their technicians to fix it but that has never happened, even after I reported it,” he said.

Xulu also confirmed that pupils have not been learning since this term started because of these issues.

“I am hurt, as a principal, that for the whole month the school has not been operating because of this problem.

“It is very difficult to get a child back onto the learning track after a month of not learning. With regard to the June examinations, we will be forced to postpone them to give [pupils] enough time to study and get ready,” he said.

Xulu said that he has been trying to report the problem of leaking pipes to the department since 2012.

“I have sent about 15 letters reporting this problem to the department but they did nothing.

“I even reported the matter to the education portfolio at the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature in 2015,” he said.

Department of Education spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa claims it is incorrect that there was no teaching and learning for this term.

“The problem started last week but intensified yesterday, resulting in the chaos that ensued. The electricity and water has been restored and teaching and learning is going to begin in earnest. We have made arrangements with the municipality to pay for the services ,” he said.


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