Fire razes school block

2019-01-07 15:27
Siqhamo Mabinza, KZN Department of Education uMgungundlovu District’s acting director, shows some of the textbooks which were damaged in the fire at Mvuzo High School at the weekend.

Siqhamo Mabinza, KZN Department of Education uMgungundlovu District’s acting director, shows some of the textbooks which were damaged in the fire at Mvuzo High School at the weekend. (Nompilo Kunene)

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With just two days left until the beginning of the first school term, two schools in the province were torched at the weekend.

The administration buildings at Mvuzo High School in France and Bathembu High School in uMzinyathi District in uMsinga, were both burnt down.

A concerned France community member, who has a child at Mvuzo High, told The Witness that they saw smoke and flames coming from the school building at around 3 am on Sunday morning.

The man said the school is regularly targeted by criminals.

“There have been countless burglaries at the school and now they have burnt it down.

“We want to know if our children’s education will be affected in any way and if the school is still a safe environment for them,” he added.

Siqhamo Mabinza, KZN Department of Education’s uMgungundlovu District’s acting director, said this was the 18th criminal incident since the school was opened in 2017.

“Since the school closed in December last year there have been two burglaries, one on December 14, another on December 26 and now this fire,” added Mabinza.

When The Witness visited the school on Sunday morning, the entire administration block, which housed offices, the reception, the staff room and textbooks storage, had been gutted and the floors were flooded.

Books, furniture, the ceiling and part of the roof were also damaged.

The room which housed the pupils’ workbooks and textbooks was gutted but Mabinza, who was also at the school assessing the damage, insisted that learning and teaching would not be affected.

“The classes were not affected so the pupils will not be affected in any way when they return from holidays.

“I have also been inundated with calls and messages from principals at neighbouring schools offering to help.

“They will be able to help with textbooks in the meantime until the department is able to provide the school with new books and we will also move the surviving furniture, books and other things to a neighbouring school for safe keeping,” he said.

Mabinza said there were no security guards at the school as the department could not afford to employ guards for every school.

He encouraged community members to assist in keeping the school safe, saying: “This school belongs to this community and it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that the school is safe.

“We will, however, be meeting with other members from the department, the school, Msunduzi Municipality as well as community leaders to devise plan of ensuring that the school is safe.”

The school’s principal, Sandile Madlala, said he was confused about why the school was targeted, adding that some of the teachers, who are due to return to work today, had contacted him with worries about their safety.

Eduction MEC Mthandeni Dlungwane warned that communities who destroy schools will not be prioritised when the department allocates budgets for renovations because this was working backwards.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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