Image via: @ricardomackenzi / Twitter
Image via: @ricardomackenzi / Twitter
The hall of Sinenjongo High School in Joe Slovo, Milnerton — built just four years ago — was consumed by flames amid rife Cape Town protests on Wednesday morning 22 July.
Sadly, Sinenjongo High School was not the only school in the area to encounter vandalism. A classroom and the library at Marconi Beam Primary School were also burned on Monday night.
According to police, there have been several violent protests, allegedly over service delivery, ravaging through the Western Cape, some starting as early as Sunday 19 July.
On 28 October 2016, the keys of the brand new, R47 million Sinenjongo High School in Joe Slovo Park, Milnerton were officially handed over to the Western Cape Education Department (WCED).
The new facility boasted top-quality accommodation for 1 250 learners, as well as sports fields and other amenities. Teaching facilities consisted of 35 standard classrooms, four science laboratory rooms, two multi-purpose classrooms, a media centre, and a computer laboratory. The complex was also equipped with a hall with toilet facilities, an administrative building, and caretaker facilities.
At the time, WCED Construction Project Manager Ismail Jakoet said members of the community were excited about the new school.
“This facility is a beacon of hope, a place where learners, educators and parents can feel safe and secure, a place where top-quality learning can take place,” he said.
Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer condemned the destruction of schools, especially amid the pandemic which has brought with it, its own challenges.
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the wanton destruction of two schools in the Du Noon, Joe Slovo area in the past two days. These disgraceful acts of thuggery will do even more harm to our children’s education at a time when teaching and learning is already difficult,” she said.
“We cannot say at this point when the damaged buildings will be replaced. The Department’s budget has just been slashed again, and other schools and areas have been waiting patiently for a long time to receive schools and halls. We will not prioritise schools that are destroyed over others that have been patiently waiting for facilities. This destruction must stop!” she added.
On Wednesday Western Cape police Brigadier Novela Potelwa said several protests resulted in damage of property.
Public Order Police and police station officials were kept busy quelling sporadic protest action in areas like Khayelitsha, Mfuleni, Kraaifontein, Delft, Joe Slovo ( Milnerton) and Laingsville (St Helena Bay).
“Scenes where vehicles and buildings were damaged by fire and vandalised played out in various areas yesterday [Tuesday]. Some of the protests in areas such as Khayelitsha, Mfuleni and Kraaifontein started on Sunday 19 July 2020 already. Indications are that the protests are linked to service delivery issues,” said Potelwa.
Overnight reports of a break-in, looting and damage to property were reported on Delft Main Road. Eleven suspects were arrested for malicious damage to property burglary and looting a liquor store after they were found inside the store with liquor. An ATM in the area was also damaged.
“On Wednesday morning, a bus was set alight in Eersterivier. Meanwhile, overnight a school hall [Sinenjongo High School] and a refuse removal truck were set alight in Joe Slovo in the Milnerton area. Police registered cases of arson. A library of another school in the area [Marconi Beam Primary School] was destroyed in a fire on Monday evening,” said Potelwa.
Most recently, 20 suspects were arrested for public violence as police responded to a series of incidents in Kraaifontein on Wednesday afternoon.