Picture: SOWETAN
Picture: SOWETAN

The loss of four schools to arson in a week carries a cost of as much as R160m if the government needs to rebuild them. The human cost is to the hundreds of children affected by the vandalism. Yet the culprits evade repercussions.

The Department of Basic Education — which is battling with budget cuts — is outraged at this state of affairs.

Spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga confirmed that schools have been torched in Jouberton in the North West; two in Siyabuswa and one in Matsulu on Tuesday — a total of three in Mpumalanga in the past three days.

The protest actions are reportedly related to political dissatisfaction. "Millions will be needed to repair them. This is a serious setback for the very community who did the damage‚" Mhlanga despaired, disclosing that "To build a standard size school costs about R40m; to reconstruct one take millions and time because you need to demolish the existing building. Mobile classrooms are very expensive. We bought 77 for R22m in 2016."

This comes at a time‚ he said‚ that "education has suffered a R3.5bn cut for infrastructure." "In all cases the culprits are known in the community but nobody identifies them‚" he tweeted. "When a school is burned down‚ invariably a number of people are involved‚ yet not a single arrest takes place. So the next one gets torched. Another day‚ another one‚ no consequences."

SowetanLIVE reported earlier on Tuesday that about 711 learners from Lethukuthula primary school in Masutu Village‚ Mbombela local municipality‚ were sent home this morning after their school was set on fire.