Hope for pupils after devastating fire


Environmental affairs minister Nomvula Mokonyane faced some tough questions from pupils in Mdantsane when she visited Sakhisizwe Secondary School following a fire that left five classrooms destroyed on Tuesday.
Mokonyane refused to speak directly to the press, saying she did not give “interviews”.
However, she used the platform to call on the youth to register and vote.
Mokonyane promised to deliver not fewer than 200 shared desks and cupboards, but student leaders demanded specifics.
Mokonyane’s visit came after a blaze left four wooden classrooms completely destroyed and one partly, in a blaze apparently started by pupils smoking behind the classrooms.
“We came here after we heard about the fire that destroyed classrooms and thought let’s not pass this school, but we should come as government and listen to what intervention we can offer,” Mokonyane said.
“I come from the environmental affairs department, and we know that there are invasive plants that should not be planted in SA. So we take the plants through our programme named ‘working for water’.”
“The plants take up too much water, so we take them out and recycle them for another purpose. We are currently working with the minister of education Angie Motshekga to turn the plants into desks and deliver the desks to schools for any emergencies or crises,” said Mokonyane.
She said to applause: “On behalf of all of us from government we will definitely make sure that we bring not less than 200 shared desks for the school, including cupboards, to just contribute towards the rehabilitation of the classrooms.”
Mokonyane was with trade and industry deputy minister Bulelani Magwanishe, BCM mayor Xola Pakati and speaker Alfred Mtsi, among other ANC members and supporters.
Pupils Asibonele Mpetsheni and Zizipho Kili then asked the minister to tell them when their school would be rebuilt.
Grade 12 pupil and SRC president Mpetsheni said: “After the classrooms burnt down, we were forced to learn in the assembly area. As grade 12 pupils the fire has affected us terribly as we were using those classrooms. You can see the rescued and remaining desks. Those are the only ones left. On top of everything I’ve mentioned, we still have a shortage of teachers.”
The student leader’s deputy, Zizipho Kili, said: “We hear you that desks will be delivered, but where will those desks be placed as there are no classrooms for them, even now the available classrooms are overcrowded.”
Educational development officer Andries Mentoor asked the pupils to be patient.
Ward 21 councillor Mpumelelo Fini said following the visit they hoped prefab structures would be provided to the more than 300 pupils affected by the disaster...

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