By ROD AMNER
Learners at DD Siwisa can see the sky through the smashed ceilings and cracked asbestos roofing of their classrooms after their school was breached, vandalised and ransacked last week.
DD Siwisa deputy principal Thozama Luvava said Hi-Tec noticed intruders in the school at 3 am on Wednesday, 11 January. They crashed through 15 classrooms’ roofs and ceilings and stole copper cables, light fittings, fans, heaters and taps.
Hi-Tec was unable to contact the school’s leadership and could not enter the locked buildings.
The intruders could easily access the school premises because other bands of thieves had stolen bits of its fences last year.
Luvava said the Department of Education had promised to install a sturdy perimeter fence around the school by October 2022, but this had not materialised.
In 2022, the department initiated a project to fence 191 schools in the province to address the vandalism and theft challenges that schools face. A fencing team is currently working on schools in Ndlambe, Luvava said.
Meanwhile, animals entered the school during the summer holidays, leaving trails of dung all over the premises.
“We do not feel safe in this school,” Luvava said.
Rain regularly breaches the 15 classrooms, and there are no lights or electricity.
Meanwhile, classroom windows have been welded shut so that criminals cannot enter. The only air in circulation comes from cracked roofs and ceilings. Temperatures reached 40 degrees Celcius in Makhanda this week.
Also, a communal water tap serving the older learners has been stolen.
These circumstances make it very difficult for the learners, Luvava said.
A member of the local neighbourhood watch, Luyanda Sakata, said his organisation had identified a suspect and was working closely with the SAPS to lay charges against him.
Staff, parents and neighbourhood watch members worked together to tidy up the mess at the school before it opened its doors to learners on Wednesday, 18 January.
Appeal for help
The school has appealed to businesses and the community for help with materials or donations to get through this challenging time:
- Tarpaulins to cover the holes in the roof and keep the summer rains out;
- Fencing materials to repair parts of the fence;
- Cash donations to purchase materials.
If you can help, please visit the school in Extension 6, phone 046 637 8099 or call Grocott’s Mail at 0761538445, and we will contact the principal.