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Hoërskool Driehoek principal: 'No early warning of walkway collapse'

The walkway caved in at the school on Friday while the teenagers were making their way to class after assembly, claiming four lives and leaving 20 others injured.

Hoërkool Driehoek in Vanderbijlpark on 1 February 2019 where at least 3 children died and 20 were seriously injured after a walkway in the school collapsed. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Hoërskool Driehoek principal Hein Knoetze says that no one could have foreseen the deadly walkway collapse which has claimed the lives of four pupils and left 20 others injured.

The walkway caved in at the school on Friday while the teenagers were making their way to class after assembly.

The Labour Department has been roped in to assess the safety of all the buildings at the school.

The Rapport newspaper spoke to a pupil at the Vanderbijlpark school who claims that the bridge had been shaking as early as Wednesday and that pupils were frightened.

But Knoetze says that he knows nothing about any early warnings.

"Even if it is true, I don't think that it is something that should be reported. No report was made and we don't want to speculate about it."

VIDEO: Vanderbijlpark school walkway collapse kills 3

He also says that routine maintenance was carried out.

"We spent close to R800,000 to R900,000, even R1 million some years, on maintenance and infrastructure to better the school. We looked at everything and looked for problems and if it's there, we rectify it."

The Gauteng Education Department is expected to receive a report from engineers after assessing the safety of all buildings at the school.

The school curriculum remains suspended until further notice.

Pupils, teachers and families will be sent for counseling to help them process the deaths of their loved ones.

The department's spokesperson Steve Mabona: "Structural engineers are already working. Yesterday, they were working just to assess, going through the entire school, which is to say if we are going to give the school an exemption, which parts of the school are accessible, which parts of the school can be utilised."

Meanwhile, Members of Parliament will visit the school on Monday.

Parliament's Education portfolio committee wants to know if proper maintenance was done to the walkway.

Additional reporting by Michael Pedro.

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