PE school for the deaf burgled 4 times, set alight twice... all in one week

2019-04-03 09:06
After being burgled four times, Reuben Birin Special School for the Hearing Impaired in Port Elizabeth was torched. (Joseph Chirume, GroundUp)

After being burgled four times, Reuben Birin Special School for the Hearing Impaired in Port Elizabeth was torched. (Joseph Chirume, GroundUp)

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Not only was the Reuben Birin Special School for the Hearing Impaired burgled four times last week, it was also set alight on Thursday, and then again on Saturday.

Classes have been suspended and the damages are estimated to be in the millions of rands, GroundUp reports.

The school in Missionvale, Port Elizabeth, has 140 learners, 60 of them living in its hostels. Classes will only restart once the debris is cleared.

Department of Education spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani said the first burglary occurred last week on Monday at the administration block. Laptops and desktop computers were stolen.

The second burglary was on Wednesday when all printers at the school were stolen.

On Thursday, the administration block was set alight and burnt to the ground. Then, on Saturday, night, 12 classrooms at the back of the school were torched.

The administration block also housed non-profit organisation Seizbyt which, in partnership with Reuben Birin, was providing computer training.

Pulumani said electricity in the area was off for the entire week due to road construction, so it was dark.

Eastern Cape Department of Education Superintendent General Themba Kojana said: "Schools are designated centres of community life. They are owned by the communities. It is unfortunate when the same communities allow for wanton destruction of property and stealing of expensive learning and teaching equipment. We call upon our communities to take responsibility for the safe upkeep of schools."

Principal Mzwanele Blou said the school had 20 teachers.

"All my colleagues are traumatised… We never expected such a calamity. We have had to postpone classes to next week to clean up," said Blou.

District director of the Eastern Cape Department of Education, Ernest Gorgonzola, said the damage could run to as much as R15m.

Eastern Cape Disability Economic Empowerment Trust director Thabiso Phetuka said: "I urge the community of Missionvale to work with the school and protect its infrastructure."

Pulumani said the police were working overtime to ensure that the culprits were brought to book.

Read more on:    port elizabeth  |  education  |  crime
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