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R138m estimated in costs to vandalism and looting of schools in KZN and Gauteng during riots

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Aug 3, 2021

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Cape Town - KWAZULU-Natal and Gauteng have estimated R138 million to be the cost of the damage caused to 158 schools during the unrest in July.

Briefing the National Assembly committees on Tuesday, acting head of KwaZulu-Natal Education Department Barney Mthembu said 144 schools, eight education circuit management offices and three education centres were verified as being damaged.

“There were loses of school property and damage to infrastructure, including classrooms,” Mthembu said.

He also said the estimated costs of damaged stood at R100 362 000.

“The damages did not stop the re-opening of schools in the province and some of the schools were provided with mobile classrooms,” Mthembu said.

He said his department was engaging the Department of Basic Education for the provision of budget for the rehabilitation of the vandalised and looted schools.

Albert Chanee, Gauteng Education Department deputy director-general for strategic planning management, said 20 cases were reported since the schools closed in June.

Chanee said in 14 of the 20 schools were incidents that occurred between July 8 and 17 “during the social unrest period in the province”.

“Rehabilitation and replacement costs for the 14 schools are estimated at R38m,” he said.

Chanee also said six schools were still being assessed and would be costed.

Granville Whittle, national department’s deputy director-general, said the damages in the provinces took place as they were still repairing more than 1 700 school damaged during Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020.

Whittle said looting was mostly ICT and administration equipment as well as food for the school nutrition programme.

His report showed that a total of 1 882 schools were vandalised since March last year across the country.

Speaking briefly before rushing to a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said losing infrastructure was one of the big challenges in the education sector.

“Losing one school or getting one form of vandalism is a big problem.

“We have suffered severe challenges in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng,” Motshekga said.

KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu said the infrastructure damages added onto backlogs on the schools damaged by criminal elements and those schools damaged by inclement weather condition, which could not be repaired due to budget cuts.

“Most of the things we hoped to proceed with had to be kept in abeyance,” Mshengu said, as he recounted that the province had to cut its personnel.

DA MP Baxolele Nodada said they should condemn the criminal behaviour that was seen in the past few weeks, particularly at schools.

“There is no justification to destroy what is already there,” Nodada said.

His sentiments were echoed by ANC MP Patamedi Ronald Moroatshehla, who described the vandalism as hooliganism, primitive and barbaric acts.

“Any person destroying what he will need tomorrow is barbarian,” Moratshehla said.

Basic education portfolio committee chairperson Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba equally condemned the criminality.

Mbinqo-Gigaba said it was so unfortunate that schools became the first targets during unrest.

“It is wrong for communities to see that as an opportunity and steal the food, go and vandalise schools they need the most,” she said.

Political Bureau

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