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Burglars target schools

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Damaged basins in toilet facilities.
Damaged basins in toilet facilities.

A syndicate of burglars have caused disarray to the Free State Department of Education at the start of the 2023 school term. The syndicate has left a trail of malicious damages and theft at township schools.

The department reported a spate of burglaries through which essentials that include learning materials were stolen ahead of the start of the school term.

The break-ins occurred at the Reentseng Primary School in Botshabelo, as well as in Bloemfontein at the Kopanong Secondary School, the Phuthanang Farm Primary School and the Gonyane Primary School.

Reported stolen goods include learning technology items such as television screens, consumables, stationery, electrical and copper items, as well as taps from toilet facilities.

Howard Ndaba, spokes­person for the Department of Education, said the department was yet to determine costs incurred due to the ongoing spate of burglaries at schools in the townships. This would entail, among other things, repairs and the replacement and supplementing of stolen learning and teaching equipment.

Ndaba said the group of syndicates have damaged several doors and ceilings of classrooms and storerooms, as well as toilet facilities, upon forced entry. Additional stolen items are electrical lights.

At the Phuthanang School, stolen items include DB main switch board cables and electricity cables from six classrooms.

Involving these burglaries reported to the police, six culprits were arrested, including two foreign national tuckshop owners.

Three of the five culprits linked to the incident at the Gonyane School are Itumeleng Mohale (21), Kamohelo Mohutsioa (21) and Lefa Maduna (22), who are remanded in custody and are expected to reappear in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on 16 January to apply for bail. They face charges of break-in and theft. The two tuck shop owners, aged 36 and 37 years, initially arrested with the three South Africans, were released.

Lt. Col Thabo Covane, spokesperson for the Mangaung Metro Police, said different learning materials were positively identified as the stolen items from Gonyane. Recovered materials range from books to rulers, rubbers, pens, pencils and sharpeners. The value of the items is yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, the Free State Department of Education announced that monitoring would be effective from today (11/01) until 31 January. Monitoring in the Motheo and Lejweleputswa districts will last until 21 January. This will continue in other districts thereafter. The objective is to ensure that learning and teaching programmes start.

According to the department, learning materials such as books and stationery have been delivered to schools across the province to ensure learning and teaching starts as planned.

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