WCape unrest school closed

2010-04-14 18:13

Cape Town - The Malmesbury school where pupils went on the rampage is to be closed until next week, Western Cape education MEC Donald Grant said on Wednesday.

He also said he wanted an urgent interdict to prevent further destruction of infrastructure at Naphakade Secondary School.

Police asked his department to close the school after pupils protesting overcrowding set fire to classrooms on Tuesday, smashed windows and clashed with police.

Some 1500 primary and secondary pupils are reportedly crammed into 25 classrooms at the school.

Grant said on Wednesday that the situation remained volatile.

"I have requested that the WCED (his department) seeks an urgent interdict to limit access onto the premises of both Naphakade Secondary and Naphakade Primary School to the officials of the WCED only.

"We feel that there was a need to obtain an interdict to ensure that the security of educators and learners is guaranteed."

He said he had also decided that both schools should be closed until April 19.

Teaching can continue

"It is deeply regrettable that this decision has had to be taken," he said.

"But we are determined to ensure that an agreement is reached as soon as possible to resolve this issue so that learning and teaching can continue."

He said the violence was "wholly unnecessary", as his department had prioritised and budgeted for the construction of a new school in the area.

The department was busy negotiating the acquisition of a site, and was determined that the new school should open at the beginning of 2012.

"I would also like to emphasise that we will not, under any circumstances, be forced by communities to change our infrastructure development plans in response to violent actions."

Eyewitness News reported that there was a strong police presence outside the Malmesbury Magistrate's Court when four pupils were to appear on Wednesday on charges of arson and public violence.

It said they were among the learners who went on the rampage at Naphakade.

In a statement on Wednesday, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga condemned the Naphakade violence.

"By choosing to resort to this kind of illegal action, learners may not only jeopardise their own futures, but have disrupted learning and teaching for the whole school," she said.

"There are far more responsible and effective ways of raising issues around education, without destroying property or disrupting schooling."