The incident took place on May 6, when Strauss took cellphone footage of the suspects implicating the premier in giving them permission to take the bricks, zinc sheeting, roofing, scaffolding and other building materials from the abandoned buildings.
Strauss said that his farm, a few kilometres outside of Upington, was situated next to the school buildings.
“The buildings are state property and could be utilised for something else. I suffered at least R20 000 in damages after my fencing and poles were stolen in the process,” said Strauss.
He stated that three of his buses were pelted with stones, where the windows were shattered.
“I was called racist names, although I am not a racist and nobody was harmed during the citizen’s arrest. If they were taken to the holding cells I would have visited them in the cells, bought them Kentucky Fried Chicken and led them to Jesus.
“If the premier gave them permission to loot the building, then she should be arrested too. If the police refuse to arrest her, we will arrest her ourselves.”
Strauss added that the police released the suspects when they arrived on the scene.
“Instead, myself and the people who assisted me in making a citizen’s arrest were searched and were accused of taking a cellphone.”
Police spokesperson Brigadier Mohale Ramatseba said the police in Upington were investigating the allegations.
“An incident occurred on May 6 at approximately 12.30pm at the premises of the old school in Karos and was attended by the station commander of Upington SAPS, Brigadier Sampie Koopman.
“The MEC for Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, Bentley Vass, was also on the scene and tried to calm the community members and the complainant.”
Ramatseba indicated that the building was an old school that was the property of the state.
“It is believed that a bus with approximately 25 males allegedly assaulted community members who retaliated by calling for assistance from community members in Karos. They also allegedly fired shots with three gas pellet pistols into the community. No injuries were reported.
“Community members then pelted the bus with stones, where after the police escorted the bus off the premises and searched it for alleged stolen property and the firearms believed to have been used.”
Ramatseba stated that the police found one gas pellet pistol inside the bus, as well as two gas pellet pistols inside the bakkie driven by the complainant.
“The police advised both the complainant and the community to register complaints at the local police station, although at this stage no cases have been registered.
“A meeting was convened for Monday at 2pm at a local primary school in Karos, but the complainant could not attend and called to make an apology.
“All allegations will be investigated.”
The spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Education, Geoffrey van der Merwe, said that the building was transferred back to the Department of Roads and Public Works in 2015, after the school building was declared unsafe.
“We relocated the pupils to Karos and accommodated them in mobile classrooms until construction of the new school was completed. The new Karos Intermediate School was officially opened by Premier Sylvia Lucas on April 18. We strongly condemn the vandalism of any school building which represents a beacon of hope in every community.”
The spokesperson for the provincial Department of Roads and Public Works, Crystal Robertson, said that they would provide a response in due course.
The spokesperson for the Office of the Premier, Bronwyn Thomas-Abrahams, denied that the premier had given anyone permission to vandalise the school.
“It is extremely malicious of Strauss to claim that Premier Sylvia Lucas encouraged people to vandalise the school. At no point did the premier do that and the accusation is dismissed with contempt and disgust that a person of the stature of Mr Strauss can peddle such blatant lies.
“Mr Strauss himself did not hear the premier utter such despicable statements and instead of establishing the truth prefers to slander the name of the premier and that of the provincial government.”
Thomas-Abrahams added that any act of vandalism was condemned, regardless of whether the building was being utilised or not.
“The premier also appeals to members of the community to report any acts of vandalism to the relevant authorities.”
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