There is a tombstone in my classroom! KwaZulu-Natal pupils to be relocated due to land dispute

2020-01-22 10:46
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Pupils at Mthwane High School in Umzimkhulu, in the south of KwaZulu-Natal, are to be relocated to a temporary facility after a tombstone was erected inside a classroom.

According to SABC News, pupils returned at the beginning of the school year to find the tombstone in a Grade 12 classroom.

It is reportedly believed that a local family that is claiming the land erected it. There are also several other older graves outside the classroom.

According to Daily News, the school was built on a farm in 1996 after the owner left the area. Community members contributed R250 each to build one classroom at a time because there was reportedly no high school nearby.

Today, the school has 400 pupils in 10 classes.

But a land dispute has now arisen between a family which claims the land is theirs, and community members who claim the land is communal, eNCA has reported.

A woman reportedly arrived on the school premises claiming to be a beneficiary of the land. The woman, who would not be named, said her grandfather was buried in the classroom, which was why the tombstone was erected there.

Other family members refused to speak to media outlets.

Pupils relocated

The KwaZulu-Natal education department has since decided to relocate pupils to a temporary structure while the dispute is being resolved.

Department spokesperson Kwazi Mthetwa told SABC News the new site would be fully functional in less than a month.

"We are just being told there is a family feud within one family, so we don't want [to] enter into their internal battles. We're just running the Department of Education and we want to see teaching and learning taking place in that school and I can confirm that teaching and learning [have] not been affected," Mthetwa told Jacaranda FM.

School governing body chairperson Siziwe Mbokazi told IOL the land dispute intensified last year to the extent that the school had to be closed temporarily.

She reportedly said they did not know the family claiming the land, but had since heard that the family claimed they lived on the farm around 1960.

A family member, Emafini Nobaza, presented eNCA with a title deed to the land, which belonged to his late grandfather, Elisha Luswazi.

He told eNCA that the family was seeking compensation from the education department for the damage to the tombstones on the school grounds. He also said the family was prepared to take legal action. "There's no stress about that."

Mthetwa told eNCA this bordered on extortion. "[The family] is not interested in any other solution."

He said the department would head to court to have the tombstone removed.

 - Compiled by Riaan Grobler

Read more on:    durban  |  land  |  education
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