By Thapelo Matlala
On the morning of 1 May 2023, when St Mary’s school patroller, Steve Abrahams, got to school and saw that a copper cable was cut off on an electricity pole on Albany Street, near the school.
Immediately after witnessing the damage done by the perpetrators, Abrahams called the school principal, Gerald Jacobs.
Although the cables were cut-off on the street pole, the remainder of the cable was in the school because the perpetrators couldn’t have access to the [the school premises]. “The only damage that was done was the cut-off only,” said Jacobs, who assumes the incident took place the day before.
The electricity poles are connected to a Grade R class at St Mary’s Primary School, which has affected learning activities. “I feel bad that this is happening because it is not supposed to happen,” said Abrahams.
Jacobs mentioned that the Grade R class, a small computer lab which the teacher makes use of, doesn’t have power, so they can’t use it. He added that the lights around the building are not working.
The most affected teacher at the school, Patricia Bingham, questions the motive behind stealing cables because it has impacted her teaching. “Now I teach my kids in difficulty in the dark, and the kids don’t like working in the dark. Especially if is cloudy, we are forced to open the curtains so that the light can get into the class,” she said.
She added, “With all the tragic events, we are still cautious, and the kids are kept under strict supervision, and we keep them away from the side of the cable incident”.
About the safety of the school, Jacobs said, “This cable theft issue is a big problem in the area, and it puts most people at risk; I am just grateful because the building is protected by the armed response, Hi-Tec Security, and we tried everything to keep it safe”.
Jacobs reported the incident to the municipality, which sent an electrician to disconnect and remove the cable connected to the pole, which was hanging from the roof of the school.
According to Jacobs, the municipality said that they had three similar cases that occurred in a short span of time in other areas and had run out of cables, as a result. However, the municipality said they will see what they can do to restore power.
Jacobs also reported the incident to the police and says that the case has been closed and that all leads were followed up. “[The] docket will be re-opened upon new leads,” he added.