Durban girls heartbroken over theft of their school's historic 'Clanger'

'It's very old and very precious'

13 January 2020 - 16:18 By LWANDILE BHENGU
The brass bell, known as the Clanger, went missing from Durban Girls' High School during the holidays.
The brass bell, known as the Clanger, went missing from Durban Girls' High School during the holidays.
Image: supplied

The matric class of 2019 at Durban Girls’ High School were left heartbroken knowing they may have been the last pupils to ring their school's historic tower bell after it was stolen last week. 

“It really is saddening to hear things like this because as much as a bell sounds like an arbitrary thing, it carries so much  history and symbolises tradition.

"It breaks my heart to know there is a possibility our future matrics may not be able to carry on the tradition of ringing the bell on their last day of school,” said 2019 head girl Lumka Swana.

Principal Erica Hayes-Hill was left speechless when she arrived back at school to find that the bell,  which has been with the school for many years, had been stolen.

“I started work on Tuesday last week. I come in a week before the staff, and that was when we realised the bell was missing.

"The bell stands 3m off the ground  so it wasn't just a case of a passerby taking it.

"It's very old and very precious and I can't believe someone would just melt that down. I believe people are better than that,” said Hayes-Hill.

The brass bell, known as “the Clanger”, was unveiled on the school's Glenwood site in 1982 and has formed part of the school's tradition for years.

According to the school's history book “it also forms a link between the three different buildings which have housed the school over the past 100 years”.

The tradition of ringing the bell is something Neha Sewpersad looked forward to when she started at the school.

“Ringing the bell is a sign you have made it through school. It is that final thing you look forward to. It's disheartening to know we might be the last matrics to ring it,” said Sewpersad.

Hayes-Hill said she hoped whoever took the bell would return it.

“The bell is made of brass which is very difficult to melt. I am hoping someone took it hoping they would get money from it, and that scrap metal dealers read the news and our posts on Facebook and return it,” she said.

In an unrelated incident, the school also had its minibus stolen on January 3 when unknown men held up a security guard.

Hayes-Hill said both incidents had been reported to the police.

She urged anyone with information about the bell to contact the school on 031 274 2700.