TEACHERS’ unions and education activists have spoken out against the damaging and looting of schools in KwaZulu-Natal during the unrest.
According to a KwaZulu-Natal Education Department spreadsheet at least 32 schools including education centres had been vandalised or looted during the KwaZulu-Natal violence.
Schools in districts such as Umlazi, Pinetown, Ugu, Harry Gwala, Amajuba and Umgundlovu have all been affected by the violent actions.
Protests in South Africa pressing for Jacob Zuma’s release from jail turned violent last weekend, with shops looted and in many cases burnt in KZN and Gauteng.
The unrest soon spiralled out of control with people looting stores and damaging government infrastructure.
Of the 32 schools, two schools had their toilets vandalised, another school had its fencing, library and kitchen damaged. Two other schools had stolen construction materials, two schools were burnt, stoves stolen and the rest of the schools were still being assessed as to the extent of the damages sustained.
National Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), a teachers’ union, said it was disgusted by the looting and damages caused to the schools.
Executive director Basil Manuel said: “Naptosa is sickened by images of a school in Kwazulu-Natal burned to the ground, and the reason apparently being that people were looking for food. Having stolen everything in the school, there could be no reason other than callous destructiveness for the school to be burned. If it is to inflict hurt on the government, there is the ballot box to do so.”
Manuel said he was even more shocked by the number of schools that were affected.
“Stealing objects and equipment from a school is contemptible, but stealing the future of innocent children and disrupting their lives is unforgivable,” he said.
Education activist Hendrick Makaneta said the culture of looting schools was “very barbaric”.
“It is difficult to understand why schools should be targeted
“For too long schools have been targets of protests by members of communities. It is about time we change the mindset. It cannot be correct that schools are scapegoats for people who are aggrieved in one way or another. If people were just looking for food, why didn’t they take the food and leave educational equipment? It is very saddening that some of the schools were even burnt,” he said.