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'We’re not going to fix it' - Lesufi on torched Katlehong school

Sections of Katlehong Primary School were burnt, allegedly during a protest over lack of electricity.

The community of Katlehong set fire to sections of Katlehong Primary School, allegedly during a service delivery protest. Picture: Panyaza Lesufi

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has expressed his disappointment in the community of Katlehong after sections of Katlehong Primary School were burnt, allegedly during a protest over lack of electricity.

“I think we need to remain firm and stand strong against this kind of behaviour. It’s starting to be a fashion and we need to stop it. If we don’t, it will continue like this. I see no reason why, if people are protesting against electricity, they need to burn a school – a primary education nogal… I must be honest, I am gutted. When I went to see the school, I just feel we can’t tolerate this, we must put an end to it and we must put a stop to it to say we are not going to do so. We’re not going to fix that school,” Lesufi told 702's Azania Mosaka on Thursday.

Lesufi tweeted pictures of the aftermath of the fire, with the caption: “People of Katlehong, this is what is left of Katlehong Primary School because the community is protesting against lack of electricity. This is
completely unacceptable. Forget it if you think we will fix it! You will see to finish.” [sic]

He said the department would take the affected kids and allocate them to surrounding schools.

Lesufi said the province's schools do not have a problem with overcrowding and that other schools would be able to accommodate the extra learners.

"This behaviour must come to an end, we must be honest. The relationship between that community and Eskom is well documented. Eskom has been trying to deal with this matter. To turn around and then burn a school, it can't be justified in any form or shape. I can't take money from another community that desperately needs a school and go and fix a school that they don't appreciate."

This was not the first time the department was taking such a stance. A few years back, Orlando West High School was damaged by learners in an apparent protest. Lesufi decided that his department would not foot the bill for the damages. He said parents eventually had to pool money together and pay for damages themselves.

"If you run the government, you must take decisions, whether they are popular or unpopular. This is lawlessness."

Lesufi has called on police to act against violent protesters who destroy public property.

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