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Dept worried damage to schools will delay lockdown recovery plan in some areas

The department said at least 402 schools across several provinces have been targeted by arsonists or were vandalised and burgled.

The Soshanguve High School in Pretoria following a fire in the administration block. Picture: @Lesufi/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – The Department of Basic Education said with about 400 schools being vandalised and property destroyed, many children would not to be able to return to school after the lockdown.

Children around the country have been staying at home with many using online teaching.

The department said at least 402 schools across several provinces have been targeted by arsonists or were vandalised and burgled.

The department’s Elijah Mhlanga said this alarming number was likely to spike with the lockdown period extended for a further two weeks.

“We have an indication that Mpumalanga has the highest number of schools that have been vandalised at 73, followed by Gauteng with 67 and if you look at Limpopo, it has 30 schools that have been vandalised.”

Mhlanga said criminals who continued to destroy the infrastructure meant to serve their communities would have a negative and costly impact on what remained of the school year

“We will not be able to work immediately there. We will have to start by establishing what work needs to be done there, that means the learners that go to those schools will be delayed.”

The department is adamant that there will be enough time to kickstart the academic year.

COMMUNITIES MUST HELP PROTECT SCHOOLS

At least 44 suspects linked to the attacks on Gauteng schools have been apprehended.

Mhlanga said the relied on communities to protect the schools.

“We don’t have any other way of protecting the schools other than to rely on members of the community to protect the schools because when this type of damage happens, it affects the children of those very communities, and we worry that when the lockdown is lifted, it will affect the recovery plans for those learners – that’s our greatest worry.”