The Free State Department of Education has quantified the costs due to damages by burglars at eight schools. The spate of burglaries by a sophisticated syndicate reportedly happened in the early hours ahead of the 2023 school term last Wednesday, 11 January.
The break-ins occurred at the following schools: Reentseng Primary (Botshabelo), Kopanong Secondary, Phuthanang Farm Primary, Gonyane Primary, Legae Primary (Bloemfontein), Iphondle Secondary (Warden), Kgauhelo Primary (Ventersburg), and Tataisong Primary (Phuthaditjhaba, Qwaqwa).
The combined damages at these schools are an estimated R500 000. The syndicate has left a trail of malicious damage at these schools situated in townships.
Howard Ndaba, provincial spokesperson for the department, said burglars stole a range of essentials, stationery, technological equipment such as laptops, cleaning tools, and gardening equipment. He said the syndicate left storerooms and toilet facilities in a ruined state.
“The police launched investigation into these spate of burglaries and vandalism at the schools,” said Ndaba. The losses at some of the schools are:
- Iphondle - thieves stole rakes, spades, batteries, and mirrors, estimated to be worth R40 000,
- Kgauhelo - the syndicate stole stationery worth R40 000 after breaking windows to gain entry in the storeroom,
- Tataisong - thieves stole a WiFi router, Lenovo laptop and bag, estimated to cost R21 200,
- Legae - thieves stole 342 chairs meant for learners worth R68 400, wiring worth about R7 000, ceiling valued at R20 000, doors valued at R2 800, and
- Gonyane - syndicate stole a range of stationery worth R300 000, after cutting the razor fence. Thereafter, they tried torching the school and administration block, using a petrol bomb. It is believed they attempted to cover their tracks by torching the hall and administration block.
The three suspects arrested regarding Gonyane’s incident reappeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Monday, 16 January, and are facing charges of break-in, theft and arson. They are Itumeleng Mohale (21), Kamohelo Mohutsioa (21) and Lefa Maduna (22).
The MEC for Education in the Free State, Tate Makgoe, has appealed to communities to help protect schools and to prevent crime by not purchasing stolen goods.