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Pupils sent home after municipality cuts water supply to Pietermaritzburg school

The school ran up a bill of R2m, says the municipality

22 January 2020 - 08:43 By Nompendulo Ngubane
The Msunduzi municipality says that Georgetown High School has run up a water bill of R2m.
The Msunduzi municipality says that Georgetown High School has run up a water bill of R2m.
Image: GroundUp/Nompendulo Ngubane

Pupils at a Pietermaritzburg school have been sent home because the municipality has cut off the water after the school failed to pay a R2m water bill.

The Msunduzi municipality confirmed that the water supply to Georgetown High School had been cut off in December. The school’s last payment was in April 2018, according to the municipality’s statement.

Last week pupils were sent home every day at 11am. The toilets are not working and pupils relieve themselves in the nearby forest.

When GroundUp visited the school on Monday, a matric pupil said teaching stopped at break time. “We have no choice but to go home.”

Another said some pupils carried water from home to drink because the taps were dry.

“The smell from the toilets is unbearable. It’s not fair.”

KwaZulu-Natal education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said the department was aware of the problem and was working on it. “We are positive that the matter will have been resolved by the end of the week.”

The municipality said an agreement had been reached by mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla and KwaZulu-Natal education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwana about the bill.

In a statement Thebolla said: “We don’t intend in any way to disrupt the education of our children. We had hoped that the school would have come forward and made payment arrangements. Unfortunately no-one came. We are hoping that we will find joy with the intervention of the MEC.”

Meanwhile, school governing body member Sonani Ndimande said pupils had been told on Tuesday to go home and return on Thursday.

He said it was not clear why the water bill was so high.

This article was first published by GroundUp.