Mobile classrooms were set alight on Monday morning at Oakdale Secondary School in Ennerdale, in the south of Joburg.
Among other demands, the community has been frustrated over delays to repairs to the school’s roof, which was damaged during a storm last year. The roof damage affected four classrooms.
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi was infuriated. “How do you burn a school while demanding better infrastructure? This must not be tolerated,” he tweeted.
Police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubela said protesters had blocked several roads with burning tyres and rocks. He said police fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
Gauteng education spokesperson Steve Mabona said the fire has since been extinguished.
FIRE : OAKDALE SECONDARY SCHOOL. SKELTON STR. ENNERDALE. JHB. GP. MOBILE CLASSROOMS ABLAZE. pic.twitter.com/wDJrLMUWFw
— REZA (@crimeairnetwork) April 15, 2019
— Neil Springfield (@neil_sp) April 13, 2019
At the beginning of the month, SowetanLIVE reported that there had been no schooling at Oakdale Secondary for Grades 8 to 11, after parents shut down the school fearing for the safety of pupils. They said the temporary containers used as classrooms were also in poor condition.
In March, a protest at another Ennerdale school saw pupils stage a stayaway to demand that delayed infrastructure repairs be prioritised by the department. They said they feared a bridge collapse similar to what occurred at Hoërskool Driehoek in Vanderbijlpark in January, when four pupils died.
Also in March, the Gauteng department of education disclosed that it has just over R1bn allocated for the renovation and rehabilitation of public schools but needs five times that amount. The budget allocated for planned and unplanned renovations amounted to only R871m and R200m respectively, while the department is faced with aging and deteriorating school infrastructure that requires about R5bn in maintenance.
This was revealed when Lesufi responded to questions in the provincial legislature from DA shadow education MEC Khume Ramulifho about the state of ageing infrastructure at some schools in the province.
In February, Lesufi promised that school infrastructure upgrades would be a focus of his department in 2019.