Pupils mop up their classroom after Tuesday's heavy rain at Swelihle High School in uMlazi. Classes were disrupted for a second day at most Durban schools as cleaning-up operations were under way after the severe storm. Picture Zanele Zulu
Durban - The storm damage at some of Durban’s oldest schools was a “ticking bomb waiting to explode” because of a lack of maintenance.

At one of uMlazi’s oldest schools, Swelihle High, two teachers suffered minor injuries, when trees fell on to a car before it landed on the administration block and a classroom.

The trees, with several others in the school yard, are estimated to be more than 15 metres high. They have reportedly been there since the 1960s, longer than the school buildings.

Principal Zandile Sithole said the school could not afford to pay for a tree-felling company to cut the trees.

“These trees are too old and too tall; that is why we need them to be removed. They have been a ticking bomb waiting to explode for years,” she said.

Sithole said the school required major renovations, which they could not afford.

“The school’s dilapidated structure could not have survived the storm and with the recent bad weather conditions we fear for the worst,” she warned.

Teachers Sindisiwe Radebe and Khoni Ngcobo, who were working in offices next door to each other on Tuesday, had to take cover when the tree fell on the roof.

Radebe was hit by bricks and sustained bruises on her hands as she tried to cover her head.

“I heard a banging sound and then a flood of rain and bricks came down,” she recalled. She said what happened had always been her worst fear.

“I sat in that office every day and feared that one day soon that tree was going to fall on us, and it did. I am lucky the worst didn’t happen,” said Radebe.

Ngcobo said she was gratefulshe got out before the roof and the bricks landed on her.

She said pupils’ files, results, records, books and portfolios were destroyed.

When the Daily News arrived, pupils were hard at work trying to clean up and mopping up water in classrooms.

At Lamontville High School, classrooms were still flooded. The roof of the home economics classroom was blown off.

A teacher, who did not want to be named, said the school was in need of massive renovations to repair the damage.

“The school is old and the roofs need to be replaced, and should more rain come, pupils will not have classrooms for the exams,” he said.

The aftermath of the Durban Storm

Durban East Primary School in Wentworth remained closed as damaged roofs and verandas posed a danger to pupils.

At Mowat Park High School parents and pupils spent their day helping clear up debris.

A classroom, library, computer lab and the art room were flooded when their roofs were blown off.

Kwazi Mthethwa, the provincial Department of Education spokesperson, said 133 schools, 52 of them high schools, suffered serious damage.

Mthethwa said the fact that the incident was declared a disaster by Premier Willies Mchunu was an indication that they would need the help of all stakeholders.

“While schools used the past two days to clean up, we are busy trying to get financial help. We have requested help from the national department. The budget from the districts and the province would not even begin to cover the costs,” he said.

Daily News