Admin block of first school built by Mandela gutted by mysterious fire

An administration block housing school records, stationery and other important documents and the principal’s office and staff room was gutted by a mysterious fire that broke out during the early hours of the morning at Jongintaba Senior Secondary School in Mqhekezweni village.

An administration housing school records, stationery and expensive equipment including around 15 new computers was gutted in a mysterious fire at Jongintaba SSS in Mqhekezweni village outside Mthatha during the early hours of the this morning. Picture: SIKHO NTSHOBANE

Jongintaba was the first school built by world icon Nelson Mandela and is named after an AbaThembu regent  King Jongintaba Dalindyebo, who took guardianship of a younger Mandela when the latter moved to Mqhekezweni from Qunu as a young boy.

The principal of the school declined to comment on the fire, but some teachers at the school claimed that they suspected that pupils had set the school alight.

They claimed earlier in the week, angry pupils demanding scholar transport had stoned several classrooms.

Jongintaba’s great-grandson, Zanomthetho Mtirara, who is the chief and head of the Mqhekezweni Tribal Authority however placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of the school management saying they had sidelined the royal family even though the school bore their relative’s name.

“There have been incidents of violence in the past when pupils pelted school buses with stones. This [fire] is a culmination of those incidents.

“I have told them [school management] that they must send me a written letter because for years they have not bothered to engage us as the royal family as the tribal authority in the village,” he added.

The Daily Dispatch has previously reported how police were called to quell violence that broke out between pupils who had scholar transport and those that didn’t in 2015. This was after those who didn’t pelted windows of scholar transport buses. Those who were inside the buses, later confronted those that threw rocks and a fight broke out.