Johannesburg - Concerned parents and members of the school governing body (SGB) of the Ormonde Primary School in Johannesburg welcomed Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi's fast action to resolve the water and sanitation problem at the school.
The school had on Wednesday turned away some 701 registered pupils who reported for the first day of the academic year.
One parent said she was glad that Lesufi had listened to their calls for assistance and that he had personally made a visit to the school.
"We came with our kids this morning looking forward to their first day. Luckily I took leave so I was able to take care of my child. What about all those parents who were planning on just dropping off their kids? They had to make last minute arrangements," the mother of a Grade 3 pupil said.
"I am happy that he [Lesufi] came. I was very upset this morning and I was one of those who called for him to come here. I hope that he will deliver."
Hope MEC delivers
When News24 visited the school on Wednesday afternoon, only two children sat with their school bags close to the gate.
The classrooms were deserted, except for SGB members, department officials, concerned parents and a small media contingent.
Lesufi instructed the department of education to provide flushing toilets for the school's learners. He said he was not satisfied with the condition of the portable toilets at the school.
School governing body chairperson Teddy Nair said they had tried relentlessly to get the municipality to connect their services, but their requests had been denied because the school was constructed on two sites, one of which falls in a residential area.
The school had no water, sewerage services, phone or electricity connections.
Nair said that he had pulled out all the stops, including contacting Lesufi's office, to try and get the situation resolved.
Lesufi said he had not received any letters from the school, but would consult with his office.
Never used toilets
He headed straight to the municipal offices after the meeting, and said he aimed to have the matter resolved by the end of the week.
The Ormonde Primary School, which is currently a temporary structure, opened its gates to learners in April last year. Only 44 learners were registered at the school at the time.
In November, the school was officially taken under the wing of the education department.
Nair said since his child started attending the school last year, he had ensured that his son never used the toilets.
"I made sure he went to the toilet before he came to school," Nair said.
While he, too, welcomed Lesufi's visit, he added that he did not believe action would have been taken had he and other SGB members not decided to turn the children away on Wednesday morning.