School-rented houses burned‚ vandalised as pupils continue to protest

30 August 2016 - 16:42 By Sino Majangaza

A house rented by Sandi Senior Secondary School in Ntsundwana village outside Ngqeleni in the Eastern Cape was set alight on Monday night and two others vandalised.This comes as the protest over a shortage of teachers at the school took an ugly turn this week.Police spokeswoman Captain Dineo Koena said one house was burnt and two others vandalised.A school hall was also burnt down. The houses that were burnt and vandalised are where renting pupils stay‚ she said.Nomachule Khaka's three-roomed flat‚ which houses a group of renting pupils was burnt down and vandalised."I received a phone call informing me that my house had been burnt‚ and indeed when I arrived this morning it was burnt‚" she said.One of the pupils staying at the house‚ Nwabisa Zayedwa‚ said they were not inside when the house caught fire."We heard that the house was going to be burnt and we went to sleep in the forest‚" she said."We have lost everything‚ books‚ IDs and clothes. Everything that was in our room has been destroyed by fire."On Monday‚ angry pupils burnt down a school hall.Learning and teaching has come to a complete standstill at the school as the protesting pupils demand the education department provide them with teachers.The school‚ which has about a 1‚000 pupils was left with only six teachers after five teachers‚ including the deputy principal‚ were expelled by the school governing body and AmaKhonjwayo traditional community in February. Nine more teachers were redeployed in Libode‚ allegedly because of their sympathies with the barred teachers.Treasurer of the school governing body Fezeka Nzabela confirmed to TMG Digital that five teachers were chased from the school."We do not want them here. We will never allow them to set their feet at the school. After they arrived‚ the pass rate at the school dropped from 100% in 2014 to 35% last year‚" she said before she put down the phone. South African Democratic Teachers' Union branch secretary in the Libode district‚ Wonga Nzamela‚ said: "A delegation we sent to that school this year to engage with the community and learners as part of stabilising that situation was nearly beaten with sticks and knobkerries ... the least they endured were strong-worded naked insults.”Koena said a case of arson and malicious damage to property had been opened and no arrests had been made.She added that police were in the village to monitor the situation.Department of education spokesman Mali Mtima said they were working around the clock to bring about stability at the school.“There are interviews taking place to recruit teachers for the vacancies at the school. Those vacancies include those of the HOD‚ principal and that of the deputy principal and by the end of the week‚ the school will have a reasonable number of teachers‚” he said.TMG Digital/Daily Dispatch

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