Classrooms set alight at schools across the country prompt arson investigation

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Eight classrooms were damaged in a blaze at Drommedaris Primary School in Reiger Park this weekend. Photo: Supplied
Eight classrooms were damaged in a blaze at Drommedaris Primary School in Reiger Park this weekend. Photo: Supplied

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Pupils are stuck at home after their classrooms were set alight and burnt to the ground this weekend.

Schools in Gauteng and the Free State have been affected.

On Saturday, the Free State education department reported that four Grade 7 classrooms were burnt down at Mphatlalatsane Combined School in Makwane Village in Qwaqwa.

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On Sunday, a girls’ hostel at Dr Block Secondary School in Heidedal, Bloemfontein, caught fire.

On the same day in Gauteng, eight classrooms were damaged in a blaze at Drommedaris Primary School in Reiger Park, Boksburg.

Gauteng education spokesperson Steve Mabona said teaching and learning had been hampered.

All Grade R to 3 learners are not at school today. The officials from the department and school governing body (SGB) at Drommedaris Primary are at the school to come up with a solution on how to accommodate the learners.

The SGB was alerted of the fire by one of the general assistant workers and the fire brigade was immediately called in.

“However, eight foundation phase classrooms and the storeroom were damaged. The department is working tirelessly to ensure that learning at the school, as well as the health and safety of learners, is not compromised as a result of this incident,” Mabona added.

The damage was so severe that the management of Drommedaris Primary School in Reiger Park was unable to salvage anything in the affected classrooms. Photo: Supplied
Pupils are stuck at home due to the blaze. Photo: Supplied

The police are investigating and the cause of the fire has not yet been established.

In the Free State, provincial education spokesperson Howard Ndaba said the fire caused extensive damage to the school’s hostel.

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“All learners were safely evacuated and overnight accommodation was arranged for the 59 learners. Three of the learners are currently under observation at Pelonomi Hospital. The department will provide counselling to learners and the affected hostel staffers.”

He said because pupils lost their valuables, the department was appealing to the public to donate items, such as blankets, mattresses, toiletries, bedding, food and school uniforms.

Investigations are under way to determine the cause of the fire at the girls’ hostel.

Free State Education MEC Tate Makgoe, who said was shocked and dismayed, was expected to visit Dr Block Secondary School on Monday.

Makgoe said: 

At the moment, the cause of the fire is unknown, but at the time when it happened, there was no electricity in the village and also at the school. There is a prima facie suspicion that arson might have been committed here.

“Therefore, we are calling community members to assist law enforcement agencies in apprehending the alleged arsonist.”

He added that the act of burning and destroying school property is keeping learners behind.

“The school was already experiencing overcrowding and since four classrooms have been burnt, we will be forced to go back to the rotational model.”


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