Third arson attack on school during lockdown

A case of arson is under investigation after a school administration block was torched. Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli/Unsplash.

With schools across the country closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a primary school in the North West fell into the hands of menacing criminals who burnt down its administration block.

The burnt down administration block at Machama Primary School, situated in the Manamakgoteng Village near Moruleng, consisted of 10 furnished offices. According to Elias Malindi, media liaison for the North West department of education, valuable educational items were destroyed in the fire such as term two and three workbooks, textbooks for all subjects, brand new duplo, two colour printers, photocopier machine, staff kitchen appliances, pressure pump, garden equipment, sports equipment, a piano and science equipment.

This is not the first school arson incident reported in the province, as IOL reported of one similar case last year, where a mobile classroom, used as an administration block, was torched in the early hours of the morning at Rekgonne Secondary School in Blydeville near Lichtenburg.

Machama Primary School has reported three such cases this year during lockdown.

 “The burnt down administration block at Machama Primary School, follows a series of burglary and vandalism incidents at schools across the province that have been reported to the department during lockdown. This is the third incident to happen at the school during lockdown,” says Malindi.

The North West Education MEC, Mmaphefo Matsemela was appalled by the incident and pleaded for the speedy arrests of the culprits.

“As a department, we are extremely disappointed and disgusted by the insensitive incident of burning the administration block of the school. Since the start of lockdown, our department has become a major victim of vandalism. Criminals have destroyed our infrastructure and many resources in schools without any regard for the education of the children,” says Matsemela.

According to the Department, they have experienced vandalism to more than 100 schools since lockdown. The schools have lost various items which impact negatively to the process of teaching and learning.

“I want to remind our communities that all schools belong to them. Whenever a school is built in any area, the community needs to be responsible to look after that particular school. This destruction happening at our schools will have a negative impact towards the education of learners. I am appealing to the law enforcement agencies to get to the bottom of the cause of fire and arrest the perpetrators”, adds Matsemela.

A case of arson was opened with the South African Police Service and so far no one has been arrested.