South Africa

News24.com | #UnrestSA: Motshekga condemns 'senseless attacks' on KZN schools, says it will cost R300m to fix

Computers, television sets, school nutrition supplies, Covid-19 essentials and kitchen equipment were some of items looted in KwaZulu-Natal schools, leaving behind an estimated R300 million in damages.

Classrooms and administration blocks were torched, doors and windows broken, and furniture damaged.

At least 137 schools suffered damages in KwaZulu-Natal during the riots that started as pro-Zuma protests in the province, said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

She said the riots had led to the vandalism of toilet blocks and plumbing equipment, destruction of water supplies including theft of school water tanks, ripping out of electric wires, especially copper cables and theft of school fences.

"This is unprecedented, and we are concerned as a sector that much needed school infrastructure was damaged. This is a serious setback, as the sector is already under pressure to provide appropriate facilities for the schooling system. Preliminary estimates on the damages puts the costs at over R300 million," Motshekga said during a briefing on Saturday, ahead of reopening of schools on Monday.

In Gauteng, 43 schools had been vandalised since the beginning of the year, she said. 

"Eleven of the cases were reported after schools went on a recess on 2 July 2021. Twenty-nine of the 43 schools have already been repaired, and work is underway to finish the others as soon as possible."

In Phoenix, Durban, where 20 people were murdered during the mass looting and riots, community groups, government officials and religious leaders were holding meetings to bring calm, said Motshekga.

She said: 

The [KwaZulu-Natal education] MEC says that is continuing to bring calm. Their starting point is that schooling must continue... the biggest threat would be for learners who come from outside Phoenix.

Motshekga said schools were ready to reopen on Monday, depending on confirmation by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday when he is expected to brief the nation. 

She added that KwaZulu-Natal officials had made plans to ensure that classes resume when pupils return on Monday.

"Depending on confirmation by the president tomorrow [Sunday] after [consultations in] Cabinet, as a sector there is agreement across the board, that we are ready for the reopening of schools on Monday. School Management Teams and support staff have already gone back to work, as from Thursday, 22 July 2021, to prepare for the return of learners and teachers on Monday, 26 July 2021."

READ HERE | #UnrestSA: 139 KwaZulu-Natal schools vandalised, says education dept

All pupils will return to classrooms according to their rotational timetables. 

"We are running late. This year's Grade 12 only had 30% of schooling. The impact of Covid-19 on learners is very devastating. Our view is that if nothing happens, we are going to face a catastrophic future with a generation that lost two years of schooling."

Motshekga said the 2023 school calendar had been published for comment, and that the 2022 calendar had been published earlier this year.

"A staggered calendar is proposed – one for coastal provinces, and another for inland provinces. As I said, your inputs are important, and we urge you to go through the proposed 2023 school calendar and submit your comments in writing. The details are available on the draft calendar itself."

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