Month-long sewage spill at school brings teaching to standstill

For the second day this week, pupils at Nkululeko Secondary School in KwaNobuhle have not been taught due to a broken pipe at a neighbouring property spilling potentially hazardous sewage into the school’s yard.

Sewage has been spilling into the yard at Nkululeko Secondary School in KwaNobuhle for the past month.
Picture: Eugene Coetzee

According to the school, the sewage has been spilling into the yard for the past four weeks, with seven classrooms immediately affected by the foul-smelling liquid which has now started spreading to a major entrance and four more classrooms.

On Monday, pupils who use the seven classrooms mainly loitered outside, while the entire school of more than 1 000 pupils was sent home at 10am yesterday.

Principal Thobeka Stokwe said despite numerous calls to the municipality, the ward councillor and the district department of education, no attempts had been made to repair the damage.

“I first reported this matter to the municipality on June 30,” Stokwe said.

“Since then I have called repeatedly and received numerous reference numbers, only to be told that they had escalated the case.

“We had extra classes for matriculants during the holidays and when we were here I called to report this every day for a week.”

Stokwe said she had also contacted the ward councillor who informed her he had reported the matter but had had no success.

“We came back after the holidays and found the same mess. Now the children have to be sent home early. This is a concern because we are meant to prepare our Grade 12s for their exams.”

According to Stokwe, said the deputy principal is wheelchair-bound and relies on the entrance that is now inaccessible.

“He has to use the other entrance now but it is not user-friendly for him,” she said.

School governing body chairman Luvuyo Mbekela said: “This is a health hazard and our teachers cannot cope and our children cannot concentrate. Our councillor came and took pictures but nothing has happened.

“I am upset, this is holding the children back.”

Mzikayise Peter, 31, who lives at the house from where the sewage is spilling, said his entire back yard was now inaccessible.

Peter lives with three other family members.

“We do not know what caused this mess but it has been a month now. We cannot use our back yard and have to hang our washing at a neighbour’s house due to the smell,” he said.

Ward 45 councillor Siphiwo Plaatjies confirmed he had visited the school and reported the matter.

“As councillors we have no alternatives but to use the same 0800 number the school used. There is no other way to liaise with the plumbers. I believe they have received a new reference number but I am not sure why because the first number should have been used until the matter was resolved.”

Municipal spokesman Kupido Baron said the municipality was trying to clear the blockage. “The affected sewer has been vandalised by the manhole covers being removed and foreign objects have been dumped into the system, resulting in a blockage and spillage.

“Normal blockage vans were not able to clear this obstruction and a specialised highpressure jetting machine will now be used.”

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