Riot Hlatshwayo and Lazarus Mnisi
Pupils and teachers had to jump over the school fence for their safety after an enraged contractor, who has allegedly not been paid for work he did, barricaded them inside the premises.
The director of Dee Dee Transport, Dan Mdluli, drove to Soniye Primary School at Rolle near Thulamahashe in his TLB machine on Tuesday and blocked the gate with heaps of soil and rocks.
He then used the TLB machine to block the gate, shouting that no one would get out.
"We were so frightened because this man was shouting like he was possessed and we thought he might shoot us, so we told the kids to run for their lives," said a female teacher.
The panicking teachers and pupils scaled the fence. Parents have complained that their children could have broken a leg or an arm.
"Whoever owes that man must pay him before something worse happens.
"We cannot afford to have our children scaling the school fence just because the government fails to pay for the work done. We have all seen the work," said Simon Mathebula, a parent.
The school recently had two blocks of eight classrooms each built.
After the completion of the two blocks, Mdluli was hired to destroy the old ones and he charged R250 an hour for the TLB machine and R150 per load on his tipper truck.
"I completed the job in fifteen days but the school says I must first fix a crack in the new building at my own expense before I can receive payment and I'm saying that will happen over my dead body.
"There will be no schooling here until my money is on the table," said Mdluli.
Soniye Primary School principal Risimati Mabasa was not available for comment as he was said to be attending a workshop in White River.
The local education circuit manager, Nelson Mbowane, said he was not aware of the matter but promised to send a representative to the school to investigate.