More than 50 KZN schools ‘torched, looted and damaged’ in unrest
More than 50 schools have been damaged, torched and looted during the unrest that has gripped KwaZulu-Natal.
Provincial education departmental spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi confirmed that more than 50 schools, two circuit offices and two education centres were hit as violence spread throughout the province.
“Some were looted, torched and damaged. We have not been able to quantify the extent of the damage and the number of schools at this point in time. Unlike during the lockdown, when our officials were able to go around to establish all the facts, their mobility is limited this time around,” he told TimesLIVE.
Last Thursday the National Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) said it was sickened by images of a school in Kwazulu-Natal burned to the ground, with the reason apparently being that people were looking for food.
“Having stolen everything in the school, there could be no reason other than callous destructiveness for the school to be burned. If it is to inflict hurt on government, there is the ballot box to do so.
Residents in Phoenix, north of Durban, took up arms to protect their families and community after a spate of violence and looting gripped large parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
Stealing objects and equipment from is a school is contemptable, but stealing the future of innocent children and disrupting their lives is unforgiveableNational Teachers’ Organisation of SA
“Equally shocking is the great number of schools that have been looted. Stealing objects and equipment from a school is contemptable, but stealing the future of innocent children and disrupting their lives is unforgiveable,” the union said.
Naptosa said the constitution determined that “a child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child”.
“One of the greatest matters that concerns children is education. But this constitutional concern for the welfare of our children is of no value if the adults, who are supposed to honour and protect the best interests of children, trample these interests at will as the protesters, kind term for common criminals, have once again demonstrated.
“How can we move forward as a country if this is the calibre of citizen we have in our midst? If people are unable to act responsibly themselves, government needs to step in and enforce responsible conduct through legislation. The time has arrived where the destruction and damage to schools can no longer be dealt with as merely an offence of ‘damage to property’.
“It needs to be elevated to something more telling for which more severe and deterrent sentences can be imposed, and where the damage it causes children becomes an aggravating factor.”
Naptosa said the acts were tantamount to treason.
“Apart from the psychological impact on the pupils and teachers of the affected schools, there is a much wider impact on the psyche of children in general. Every time they see adults being angry about issues in society, they must fear their school may be targeted for destruction with resultant disruption to their lives.”