It was back to school for many pupils on Wednesday but this was not the case at Alphendale Senior Secondary School in Buffalo Flats.
After multiple cable theft break-ins during December, which will cost millions to fix, the school has been left without any of its critical infrastructure including water pipes, sanitation facilities, as well as electricity cables.
At a community meeting held at the school on January 12, principal Gavin Appollis said having no water and sanitation services for pupils contravened the SA Schools Act, and as such, it was not safe for pupils to be on the premises.
Education department official Leon Kasper said nine schools in the metro had been vandalised during the festive season, including Pefferville Primary, which is also in Buffalo Flats.
According to a Pefferville Primary School notice, it also could not open yesterday.
Kasper said: “This means a lot of money has to be spent now on vandalised schools when that money should have been directed towards feeding schemes and other support for our learners.
“We don’t have security at our schools but we have proposed to our provincial offices that technical high schools like Alphendale can’t be without security.
“At a technical high school there is so much material that needs to be protected.
“Last year ,we did an assessment on replacing the doors and windows at Alphendale but it won’t help if we proceed with this and have contractors here with their materials and there is no security.
“Our plea is that the department will ensure security at night but we need the community to take charge of protecting the school too. If we work hand-in-hand our schools will be safe.
“We can manage for the moment without the electricity so we [sic] will be concentrating first on getting a plumber out here to sort out the water issue as we can’t keep pupils here for longer than two hours if there is no water on the premises.”
The cost assessment for the electricity cables was R5.5m, according to the department. No other costing assessments were available as yet.
Alphendale’s workshop areas, at which scarce skills specialist Brendon Fraser’s academy teaches accredited forklift training, first aid classes and firefighting, was the hardest hit.
“I wanted my academy to uplift the community from Scenery Park to Gompo, by giving people in the area a skill because driving a forklift is an employable skill,” Fraser said.
“The academy was initially started by my father, it was his dream to empower the community and I took over as I wanted to further this.
“Skills development academies are important because with our training people have been employed by Mercedes Benz and the companies that supply it.
“The vandalism at the school has brought my training academy to its knees.
“It has knocked me out of R30,000 and for now the training is on hold.
“For my academy to get back on its feet the school urgently needs to receive the security services from the department,” he said.
Alphendale will communicate with parents on when school books and stationary can be collected.
Special arrangements will also be made to ensure its matric pupils are able to proceed with their classes to ensure their academic year is not compromised.