Durban — The DA and IFP have called for police to probe an arson case following a fire that broke out at Phoenix Secondary School on Tuesday night.
It is alleged that two unknown men were spotted jumping over the school fence shortly after the fire broke out.
Dr Imran Keeka said the DA in KwaZulu-Natal was alarmed by what seemed to be a case of arson which gutted significant parts of the school premises.
“A preliminary assessment report given to our constituency head in the area, Bradley Singh, suggests that textbooks and stationery intended for distribution when schools open have also been destroyed together with the library.
“In that report there is a suggestion that this is a deliberate act.
“It is most revolting, especially on the eve of the first schooling day of the new year.”
Keeka urged law enforcement to swiftly move with an investigation that will lead to the arrest of the alleged perpetrators who were seen leaving the promises shortly after the fire started.
“We call upon the SAPS to work closely with the community and fire investigators to gather as much evidence as possible,” he added.
A source told the Daily News that community members and parents were baffled as to what may have caused the suspects to burn down the school.
“Regardless of the criminal incidents we have experienced at Phoenix Secondary, the arson case has an immense impact that will cause great harm to the learners and educators of the school. This indicates that the department needs to consider hiring more security guards because one guard cannot safeguard the whole school,” said the source.
The Daily News also discovered that a security guard who was on duty heard noises from the administration block.
Upon inspection, he found that the building was on fire.
KZN legislature member Bradley Singh said Phoenix Secondary is the oldest school in Phoenix and asked the Department of Education to intervene.
“Because the damage will have major implications on the learners, especially those in Grade 12, we have requested previous learners to assist the school in fixing the damaged infrastructure.
“We have also called on the Department of Education and the Department of Public Works to resolve the current situation,” said Singh.
IFP councillor Dr Jonathan Annipen said the school has sentimental value for him because he has special memories of the school.
“The fact that the incident took place just before the reopening of school is very concerning, he said.
“There are already a number of existing challenges which include the bad condition of school infrastructure. And this will impact badly on the learners as it will be very difficult for the school management team to deal with the matter,” said Annipen.
KZN Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said the motive for the incident was still unknown but the investigation process had commenced.
“We have instructed the school management to present their work schedule plan that will allow the operations to keep up at the school.
“And we hope that by next week all learners will be back to school because in our findings no classes were damaged by the fire,” said Mahlambi.
KZN police spokesperson Colonel Robert Netshiunda confirmed an investigation into the case was opened at Phoenix SAPS on Tuesday.
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