Gauteng school suffered 17 break-ins before it was torched, says Lesufi

2020-01-15 17:50
Khutlo-Tharo Secondary School in Sebokeng was damaged in a fire in the early hours of the morning. (Ntwaagae Seleka/News24)

Khutlo-Tharo Secondary School in Sebokeng was damaged in a fire in the early hours of the morning. (Ntwaagae Seleka/News24)

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Khutlo-Tharo Secondary School in Sebokeng, which was torched on Wednesday morning, has suffered 17 break-ins since August last year.

Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi told the media that the school had literally been broken into every week.

An administration block at the school was engulfed in flames in the early hours of the morning, just hours before pupils were expected to begin the first term of 2020.

The school had been identified as a school of specialisation in the province.

"The school has narrated that they have lost almost everything. This school was positioned to be a school specialising in music and everything related to music.

"Musical instruments and textbooks were destroyed by the fire. Fortunately, since the school is aware of [the] break-ins, they have arranged an offsite storage somewhere to store stationery material," said Lesufi.

Pupils were sent home for the day so that police specialists could comb the premises.

He said the department is putting measures in place to ensure that the school functions without hassles. He promised that learning would get underway on Thursday.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura said they were saddened by the destruction of public property, saying it had impacted negatively on the commencement of schooling.

"We put a great deal of effort in proper starting of the academic year every year… We ensure, on the very first day of teaching, there is proper teaching and learning taking place," said Makhura.

He added the incident was a setback in the province.

"We are deeply concerned because this is the third school since December to burn down in this area. We are deeply concerned by this trend and are looking at what is targeted when these schools are burnt down," said Makhura.

"It is often the administration section of the school, or where expensive equipment is stored."

He said the arsonists are criminals and should be treated as such, and he called on police to arrest them.

Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant General Elias Mawela said everyone attached to the school was a person of interest.

"It is not normal for three schools to be burnt down in 15 days in the same area. We are all concerned about that and are also cautious because crime prevention and crime investigation are our mandate and we are going to do exactly that.

"We have put down a team of seasoned detectives who are going to ensure they bring all these case dockets together in a central point, including all the break-ins," Mawela said.

He called on everybody attached to the school to co-operate with the police investigators.

"For us, each and every person working in this school and who is associated with this school, will remain a person of interest. We will start from inside and go outside. When we visit, you talk to us and tell us what you know.

"We are not going to be apologetic when we come to every person suspected. All we want is let us work together. If not, perpetrators will continue what they are doing," Mawela said.

Read more on:    panyaza lesufi  |  david makhura  |  johannesburg  |  education  |  fires

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