(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Cape Town - Two Manenberg schools are preparing to make way for the new R2.4 billion Klipfontein Regional Hospital, which needs at least 7 hectares of land. 

On the corners of Duinefontein and Turfhall roads, the phasing out of pupil intake at Sonderend Primary School and Silverstream High School has already begun, said the secretary-general of the Manenberg Business Forum Fareed Jansen. 

Talk of the schools’ closure started about five years ago and had initially been met with outrage by the school governing body (SGB), with Jansen saying no alternative schooling had been given to pupils at the time. 

Since then Jansen has been in talks with the provincial education department, and it has been decided that a school of skills will be built at the old GF Jooste Hospital site, expected to be completed in 2021. The department last year announced the plans, although no final decision had been announced. GF Jooste had been one of the busiest hospitals on the Cape Flats, and had closed its doors in 2014. 

Over the past five years, little concrete detail had been shared on where exactly its replacement site would be, or how much the new hospital would cost. This was partly due to a consultation process with residents. Provincial health department spokesperson Mark van der Heever yesterday said a public consultation process, governed by the South African Schools Act, had been taken. The new regional hospital would act as a referral hospital for surrounding areas, with an expected completion date in 2029. The new hospital would relieve pressure on Groote Schuur, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, Tygerberg and Somerset facilities, as well as from the Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain district facilities.

“Within the context of the limited availability of suitable land within Manenberg, the Western Cape government has identified a potential site that could meet the requirements for a new regional Hhospital and ambulance base. The site, on the corner of Duinefontein and Turfhall roads, is currently occupied by the Sonderend Primary School and Silverstream High School.”

Van Der Heever said Van der Heever added that the construction of the hospital would be done in three phases, with phase 1 divided into two smaller progress phases: phase 1A – essential emergency and medical inpatient services with limited surgical inpatient capacity and a mental health unit; and phase 1B: remainder of medical and surgical inpatient services and a maternity obstetrics unit service. Jansen, a former SGB chairperson, said currently Silverstream only had pupils in Grades 10, 11 and 12. In 2021, the school would only have a matric class pending its closure. 

“The school of skills as an alternative is exactly what we wanted. When the department initially told us to stop taking pupils, they didn’t offer an alternative. It’s been a fight, a battle with them,” Jansen said. 

Provincial education spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the plan fell in line with the Manenberg community steering committee and the province having reached a consensus. SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) provincial chairperson Jonovan Rustin accused the Education Department of not playing its cards openly over the past few years, leaving residents in a state of constant confusion.

CAPE TIMES