KZN floods trap pupils and teachers in school

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Nkosinathi Ngcobo advised principals to observe weather patterns and find ways to communicate with parents about when it was safe for pupils to return to school.  Photo: Getty Images
Nkosinathi Ngcobo advised principals to observe weather patterns and find ways to communicate with parents about when it was safe for pupils to return to school. Photo: Getty Images

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The government in KwaZulu-Natal is working on rescuing teachers and pupils who spent a night at Tholulwazi Secondary School in Pinetown, south of Durban.

The teachers and pupils were trapped at the school following the floods that have caused havoc in the province this week. At least 45 people have died and hundreds have been displaced.

READ: Watch | KZN battered by heavy rain and floods

On Tuesday, the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) in KwaZulu-Natal, together with the provincial department of education, indicated that it had managed to secure a chopper and a boat to ensure that teachers and pupils were safely removed from the school.

Sadtu provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza said: 

The branch leadership worked until 10pm on Monday to engage with the police and local government officials to rescue our teachers and learners. Unfortunately, teachers and learners had to sleep at the school as there were no resources to safely remove them.

The provincial department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs said that the disaster management centre was working with the SA National Defence Force and others to provide aerial evacuation for those who were trapped at the school.

The department also announced that the number of fatalities was expected to increase as more reports come in.

On Monday, the head of the provincial department of education, Nkosinathi Ngcobo, advised that schools should not open in areas that were affected by the floods on Tuesday.

Ngcobo advised principals to observe weather patterns and find ways to communicate with parents about when it was safe for pupils to return to school.

Caluza also urged school managers to “show their leadership” during this time and “save lives”.

She said: 

There is no reason to want people to come to school if it is dangerous to do so.

In December and early this year, when the province was hit by widespread flooding, 189 schools were damaged. Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu said the province would need R238 million to fix the damage and provide mobile classrooms after those floods.

READ: Provinces to fork out millions to fix storm-damaged schools

Meanwhile, at a press briefing on Tuesday, eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said that this weekend’s storm was different to what the province had experienced before. He added that the city was “working tirelessly” with multidisciplinary teams to clear the blocked roads and reconnect water and electricity supply that had been interrupted by the floods.

The provincial department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs added that it was working with disaster management, law enforcement agencies and social partners to provide relief to affected communities.


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