Two policemen on guard at Masakhaneni high school during the first day of school's opening l, where two pupils were stabbed to death last year in KwaMakhutha
Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)
Two policemen on guard at Masakhaneni high school during the first day of school's opening l, where two pupils were stabbed to death last year in KwaMakhutha Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)
Two policemen on guard at Masakhaneni high school during the first day of the school's opening, where two pupils were stabbed to death last year
Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)
Two policemen on guard at Masakhaneni high school during the first day of the school's opening, where two pupils were stabbed to death last year Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)
Police officers keep an eye at  Masakhaneni high school, where two pupils were stabbed to death last year in KwaMakhutha
Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)
Police officers keep an eye at Masakhaneni high school, where two pupils were stabbed to death last year in KwaMakhutha Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)
Pupils from Masakhaneni High School in Kwamakhutha arrive at school under the watchful eye of police.
Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)
Pupils from Masakhaneni High School in Kwamakhutha arrive at school under the watchful eye of police. Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)
Durban - Work began at most schools in KwaZulu-Natal on the first day of the school year this week, but at the troubled Masakhaneni High School in KwaMakhutha, it was not quite business as usual.

Last year two pupils - Sihle Mngadi, 20, and Mangaliso Mbatha, 18, - were fatally stabbed and 17 teachers removed, leaving the school with just seven teachers.

The 17 teachers were suspended in February by the Department of Education on allegations that they sold drugs to the pupils.

Assisted by 23 volunteer teachers, the school achieved a 30 % matric pass rate compared with 70% in 2017.

The volunteer teachers told the Daily News yesterday that the matric pass rate would have been much worse if it was not for their lessons which they had provided, to help the pupils.

Education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwana, who described the KwaMakhutha school as a “drug den” when he visited it last year, said apart from the drugs and criminal activities, a lack of discipline added to the school’s challenges.

The problems led to a visit yesterday by Deputy Police Minister Bongi Mkongi, who met education stakeholders.

Two police officers were deployed at the school from yesterday as a precautionary measure.

After his visit, Mkongi said he would develop safety strategies specifically to deal with the challenges at the school.

“I have adopted the school and the KwaMakhutha police station will work with the school. The two police officers were deployed to ensure the safety of both the pupils and the teachers.

“The Community Policing Forum and school governing body have also promised to play their part in restoring safety at the school,” he said.

Mkongi said he would also use the services of newly-graduated police officers for patrols around the area.

Siphiwe Mpungose, general secretary of the Educators’ Union of South Africa, applauded the deployment of the two police officers, and called for the same at every school in the province.

Mkongi said social ills within the community had an influence on the school, resulting in the violence, drug problems and ill-disciplined pupils.

“The lack of co-operation by teachers is another source of problems. This school has only seven teachers.

“I believe that, with support, it has a potential to do well,” said Mkongi.

A report by the task team appointed by Education Head of Department Enoch Nzama recommended that the suspended teachers not return to the school. It also recommended that the substitute teachers be replaced with new teachers.

However, this has not happened.

The substitute teachers told the Daily News on Thursday that they were not substitute teachers but volunteers, who had rendered their services for free in the hope that they would be recognised and given permanent employment.

Mduduzi Myeza, who spoke on behalf of the 23 volunteers, said they were unemployed, but qualified teachers, who saw an opportunity to help when the pupils were left stranded.

Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said except for the parents who were still searching for schools in which to enrol their children, the start of the 2019 academic year had gone smoothly.

He appealed to those parents still looking for schools to approach their circuit offices for help.

He said Mvuzo High School in Pietermaritzburg, where the admin block was torched on Sunday, could not begin classes yet because clean-up operations were still under way.

Daily News