- Last week, matric pupils from Tirelong Secondary school were relocated to another school after theirs was vandalised for the fifth time since 2020.
- They had been staying at the boarding school since the start of the 2022 academic year and according to the provincial education department, most of them were forcibly removed from the school by residents on Sunday night.
- The department says the matter has been reported to the police.
The North West Department of Education says residents have allegedly forcefully removed 56 children from a boarding school where they were housed after their school was vandalised for the fifth time since 2020.
Matric pupils from Tirelong Secondary School were accommodated at the Naawpoort Mega Farm School at the start of the academic year after their school was vandalised during the December holidays.
According to the department, residents, including parents of the pupils, stormed the school on Sunday night in four Quantums, a truck, two cars and allegedly forcefully removed the children.
"The security company reported that members of the community arrived at school and they broke the gate lock and pushed the gate to the ground. It is reported that they arrived in numbers. They were singing and chased the security away at night," it said.
Department spokesperson Elias Malindi said it was suspected the parents stormed the school after a pupil allegedly claimed she was a prophet, saying they were not safe at the boarding school and would die.
A video of panicked pupils was sent to parents.
"The kids in the video were falling. So, we believe and think maybe that is what started the whole controversy. They saw this video and became agitated and wanted to know if the kids were safe or not."
When the academic year kicked off last Wednesday, Kroondal residents barricaded a main road, protesting for a new school to be built closer to them.
Education MEC Mmaphefo Matsemela appealed to parents to return the children and not deny them a chance to study.
"We are really concerned to see adults gambling with the future of learners. Almost 56 out of 74 learners have been taken away from the school.
"These community members are violating the learners' right to education which is enshrined by the Constitution. They take learners even though parents have signed forms. Again, why do they take children at night?" said Matsemela.
Malindi added the department would be engaging with parents to ensure the children received an education.
Only 18 pupils remained at the boarding school.
The department said it had registered a case with the police.
North West police spokesperson Colonel Adele Myburgh told News24 that the principal of Naawpoort Mega Farm School opened a case of malicious damage to property on Wednesday.
Myburgh also said the principal could not open a kidnapping case and that parents needed to do so themselves.
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