Pupils decry not being fed at school near Stutt

About 300 pupils of St Thomas School for the Deaf and the school governing body (SGB) yesterday blockaded the entrance to the school, claiming not to have been fed for two days.

BITTER TASTE: Hundreds of pupils from St Thomas School for the Deaf blockaded the school gates in protest over not receiving food Picture: SISIPHO ZAMXAKA

They also called for principal Zet Jizana’s resignation, claiming he was negligent.

The pupils at the school in Zeleni, 20km outside Stutterheim, closed the school gates. The pupils and the SGB claimed children, some on medication for chronic illness, allegedly slept on empty stomachs for two days.

Speaking through sign language interpreter Bulelwa Madikane, Grade 10 pupil Anelisa Sigwebo, 19, said even when they had food, it is never enough as it was difficult to study on empty stomachs.

She said this was a second protest they had led in two weeks.

“The principal does not treat us well. He just doesn’t care about us. We want a principal who cares about us.”

The matter has since been taken up by Deaf SA. The organisation’s provincial chairman, Khumbulani Mshiywa, said most pupils in the school were on anti-retroviral drugs and epilepsy treatment.

“How can they be expected to take treatment on empty stomachs? The department must remove this man and his entire school management team,” he said.

Mshiywa said they had complained to the education department, to no avail.

She said the pupils were vulnerable, and not having food made their situation worse. He said it was wrong for the pupils to be starved while there was money for food.

When the Daily Dispatch team arrived at the school yesterday, there was a police van outside the yard with one officer. Officials from the education department were outside the gate.

SGB chairwoman Nomhle Nyanda claimed Jizana was not instilling the rule of law at the school. She accused him of neglecting his duties. Nyanda claimed that she signed a R22000 cheque for food each week, yet there has not been food for two days.

She further claimed she had been stabbed by a staff member when she confronted the person who had been accused of taking six litres of milk.

Nyanda called for the principal to be replaced. Deputy principal, Bonisile Radoni, accused assistant teachers of instigating the pupils to protest, saying the school was functioning normally.

Provincial education spokesman Loyiso Pulumani said officials from the inclusive education section and Buffalo City district were immediately sent to the school with the pupils, community members and the SGB.

“Officials were informed of the absence of the cook that precipitated the dissatisfaction amongst the pupils. The school had provided pupils with bread but they were not satisfied.”

” The department was working on restoring normality and meeting “reasonable demands”, he said. — zolilem@dispatch.co.za

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