Motshekga: Over R100 million needed to repair KZN schools after unrest

Gauteng schools will need R45 million to fund repairs and replacements because of vandalism and looting during the COVID-19 and the violent unrest.

FILE: Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Tuesday said violence and looting had cost KwaZulu-Natal schools more than R100 million.

Gauteng schools will need R45 million to fund repairs and replacements because of vandalism and looting during the COVID-19 and the violent unrest.

Motshekga and officials from the two provinces have briefed Parliament about the damage to schools as well as their readiness to open.

The department said the biggest challenge it had in the sector was infrastructure and the vandalism - and the looting had made matters worse.

Some of the damage to schools include arson, and the theft of computers and equipment.

Dr Barney Mthembu, KwaZulu-Natal education acting HOD, said not even cutlery survived the looting.

“These are the education support centres… three of them. And the most affected education centre is the one in KwaMashu where a lot of things… in fact they ripped everything off. They even took cups and saucers and everything.”

Minister Motshekga said the impact would be felt mostly on the infrastructure damage.

“Even now as I’m visiting schools, infrastructure continues to be a big problem. So just losing one school or getting one form of vandalism is a big problem.”

Government is not insured, so when any institution is damaged or vandalised, it has to find budget from other projects to repair what’s been destroyed.

SOCIAL DISTANCING: HALF A METRE?

Motshekga wants Cabinet to consider revising physical distancing measures at primary schools down to just half a meter.

Some schools say they would simply not be able to meet the stipulated requirement of physical distancing now that full time classes resumed due to limited space.

Motshekga has been monitoring the return of pupils in Ekurhuleni on Tuesday.

She said she had noted that it would simply be impossible for most schools to implement the one-metre physical distancing in class with the full return of pupils while the country was still under COVID restrictions.

“We still need more relaxations; it’s not working. They say they’re forced to rotate other grades.”

Motshekga said she would be requesting Cabinet to consider relaxing some of the restrictions to assist schools with capacity issues.

“That’s what we’re going to negotiate with Cabinet; it has to be approved by Cabinet that we reduce the distance from one metre to half a metre and then from there, schools tell me that they’ll be able to accommodate all of them.”

Some schools have had to return to the rotational timetable with those in grade 7 only allowed to continue with full time attendance

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