Bathembu High School in Msinga, northern KwaZulu-Natal, was damaged in a suspected arson attack at the weekend.
Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education is starting the school year on a bad note after two of its schools were torched.

Mvuzo High School in France township in Pietermaritzburg and the Bathembu High School in uMzinyathi district in Msinga, northern KZN, were damaged in suspected arson attacks.

The department said it expected arrests to be made soon in connection with the incidents.

“The administration block of (Mvuzo) was affected. Some textbooks were also affected but stationery was spared because it was in the strong room,” said Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi.

“This is a state of the art brand new school, which was opened in 2017. Since that time, to date, it has been broken into 16 times, just this December it was broken into 3 times.

“On December 14, there was writing on the wall at the school that says ‘we are tired of being failed, should we fail again you will see’. Textbooks and stationery have been taken to a nearby primary school, which has never been broken into,” he said.

He said at the Bathembu High School in uMzinyathi district in Msinga, an administration block, including textbooks, stationery and classrooms, were burnt around 11.30pm on Saturday night.

“Eyewitnesses say a bakkie was seen at the school prior to the fire.”

Pupils at the schools may bear the brunt of the attacks, as Education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwane has repeatedly warned that the department will not rebuild schools that were burned.

On Friday, he said communities who destroy schools will not be prioritised when budgets are allocated for renovations.

France township ward councillor Sibongile Mncwango said the problems at Mvuzo High were known in the area.

“That school is brand new but there have been 15 or so break-ins. I am not sure whether it is the learners or the community responsible for such chaos.

“On the day of the fire, I had been chatting with another reporter from a local newspaper, who said that they need to look into what is happening at that school and, in the early hours of the morning, I get a call that the school has been set alight.

“I would encourage you (media) to visit the school; maybe the school management has a better handle of what is behind this because I have no idea,” she said.

The Mercury