Trade unions condemn looting and torching of schools in KZN

16 July 2021 - 19:13
By nomahlubi sonjica AND Nomahlubi Sonjica
Looters have destroyed infrastructure worth billions of rand. File photo.
Image: Alaister Russell / Sunday Times Looters have destroyed infrastructure worth billions of rand. File photo.

Trade unions have condemned the looting of schools in KwaZulu-Natal.

“The acts of hooliganism the country has seen this past week is unacceptable. But to destroy schools, especially those with feeding schemes, is at the next level of criminality,” said the SA Parastatal and Tertiary Institutions Union (Saptu).

“There is no excuse to take away the future of our children,” said Saptu general-secretary advocate Ben van der Walt. 

According to the union, 32 schools have been looted and vandalised in eThekwini and the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.

“Our thoughts are with our colleagues whose job to prepare children for their futures just became even more challenging,” said Van der Walt.

The union called on the government to urgently secure schools and bring an end to the unrest.

The Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) also spoke out against the destruction of schools in the province.

“Fedusa is sickened by images of a school that has been burnt to the ground in Pinetown. The apparent reason is that people were looking for food. Having stolen everything in the school, there could be no reason for absolute callous destructiveness of burning down the school,” said Fedusa general secretary Riefdah Ajam.

Non-profit organisation Save the Children said 30 of the damaged schools were supported by them.

“One of the Save the Children-supported schools that has been damaged is for children with disabilities, who are already at a higher risk of losing long-term access to education due to Covid-19,” the organisation said.

“The charity strongly condemns the vandalism of the schools in KwaZulu-Natal province, as reported this week by the National Professional Teachers' Organisation of SA (Naptosa).”

The unrest and looting of businesses and schools, the organisation said, came days after basic education minister Angie Motshekga announced that 1,718 schools across the country were undergoing major repairs, following a spike of burglaries and vandalism during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“Children in SA have had their education disrupted for over a year, and when they are in school, they attend class every other day in over-crowded, under-resourced classrooms. Online schooling remains an impossible challenge, with most children having no access to internet or electronic devices.

“According to data from the latest National Income Dynamics Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM), an extra 500,000 children have dropped out of school in SA during the pandemic. The group’s researchers found that school dropouts have tripled from pre-pandemic levels of 230,000 to approximately 750,000 in May 2021.”