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Katlehong community denies burning school during protest

Sections of Katlehong Primary School were set alight last week during an alleged service delivery protest.

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

JOHANNESBURG - The community of Katlehong has on Monday denied claims that they set a primary school on fire during a protest.

Sections of Katlehong Primary School were set alight last week during allegedly during a protest over lack of electricity.

In a statement from the Gauteng Education Department, the department said it accepted the community’s position that it did not mobilise for the burning of the school.

“Accordingly, it is suspected that this act of arson might be the work a lone member of the community. It is important to note that, we have an undertaking from the community to assist to track the culprit.”

Provisional accommodation has been made for the two grade R classes that were burnt and affected learners as teaching and learning was expected to resume nationally on Tuesday.

Last week, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi expressed his disappointment in the community of Katlehong and said the department would not be rebuilding the school.

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]

The MEC said parents eventually had to pool money together and pay for damages themselves.

"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."

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