Matric pupils affected by tornado pushing to complete year on a better note

Zamajobe Sithole at her extra classes

Zamajobe Sithole at her extra classes

Published Jun 19, 2024


MATRIC pupils impacted by the recent tornado are pushing ahead with their studies, despite losing their homes, uniforms and books in the storm.

Seatide Secondary pupil, Liam Pillay, said some of his study material had been destroyed in the tornado but he was grateful that his family survived the devastation.

Pillay, 17, said he had been studying when the tornado hit.

“Inside our house, the windows rattled and furniture moved. The sound of the tornado was deafening. Then the power went out and I felt our house shake.”

Broken ceiling in Liam Pillay’s home

He said he was okay and only his mum had been injured but their house had been badly damaged. Pillay and his family are currently staying with a relative.

He said the events of the tornado had had an impact on his mental health and it was tough to study with so much going on around him.

“My parents made sure all my damaged study material was quickly replaced. I am now preparing for the matric trials.”

Pillay’s subjects include accounting, business studies, life science and maths.

School principal Kola Govender said provisions had been made to assist pupils who had lost their study material and uniforms in the tornado.

“We also have teachers working on additional learning material, printing worksheets and getting notes for pupils in need of it,” said Govender.

He said matric pupils were attending extra classes at the Anton Lembede Mathematics, Science and Technology Academy in La Mercy.

Tongaat Secondary matric pupil, Zamajobe Sitole, 17, of Sandfields, said she was alone at home when the storm hit.

“I hid in my mum’s room under the bed. All our windows broke, the roof flew off and the ceiling boards fell inside the house. Within a minute, the inside was flooded.”

She said she was staying with her mum, aunt, younger brother and sister at a flat near her school while their home was repaired.

Sithole said: “My school bag was damaged, so whatever books I had in there were also destroyed. Thankfully, the rest of my books are okay. I was also lucky to find my uniform in a usable condition.”

She said she had a tough time studying for the June exams, especially with the loss of a teacher she used to travel to school with and was close with.

“I am not sure how I performed in this exam, but I hope to redeem myself in the trials.”

Her subjects are maths, physical science, life science, history and isiZulu.

She hopes to pursue a career in pharmacy or radiography.

Sithole added: “I am also grateful for the help I received from school in the form of stationery, study material and food parcels.”

Maggie Naidoo, the principal of Tongaat Secondary, said they had set up relief programmes for pupils affected by the tornado. Clothing, school uniforms, groceries/food hampers, toiletries blankets, and drinking water, were collected through donations/sponsorships.

These were distributed to victims and their families, said Naidoo.

She added that every grade 12 pupil affected by the tornado received a special pack

“It consisted of stationery, a Magento rechargeable lamp, and a calculator. The school has also received sponsorship for duplicating paper to assist pupils with copying notes. Each morning, these pupils are served breakfast on their arrival,” she added

Amahle Hadebe, 17, a matric pupil at Fairbreeze Secondary, was at her home in Magwaveni at the time.

“I live in an informal settlement. I share the home with my mom, my two younger sisters, and stepfather. When the tornado hit our home it was the most frightening experience of our lives.”

Amahle said it had destroyed their three bedroomed house.

“I lost my identity card and documents that I had certified. It also rained heavily and all my school books, textbooks and school shoes were damaged by the water. My mother managed to salvage my uniform, which was one skirt, a T-shirt, and a jersey.”

She said she was now living with her mother’s friend because they were still in the process of fixing their home.

“At school, we are currently having intervention programmes to help us prepare for the third term and trial examinations. With all that has happened, my principal and teachers have been very supportive.”

She has applied to either study food science, occupational therapy, information technology, or teaching.

“I am holding onto hope for something better. I am smiling and trying to be brave to hide the pain that I am going through. But when I am alone I think about the day the tornado hit and I am overcome with fear. When I look at the pictures of the devastation, I get scared that it may return and this time take my life. I am looking to God for comfort.”

School principal, Crystal Pillay, said 1 000 pupils had been directly affected.

“We are currently holding intervention programmes to help the matric pupils. Despite the challenges of being displaced from their homes, pupils like Amahle are still pushing through.”