State opens new school after protests
Two days of protests by about 1000 pupils at Zonkizizwe informal settlement, Ekurhuleni, have forced the authorities to allow them to occupy an incomplete school building after three years of learning inside prefabricated structures.
On Monday and Tuesday, the pupils demonstrated on the premises of nearby Winile Secondary School and prevented classes from being held.
They said no lessons would be held unless their new school, Zonkizizwe Secondary School, was opened. Authorities relented and yesterday gates of the new school were opened for boys to move desks into the classrooms. Classes are expected to start today.
In 2005, Winile was overcrowded and the Gauteng department of education decided to erect 27 makeshift classrooms in a nearby empty space while Zonkizizwe was being built.
The school was nicknamed "Vumbuka", isiZulu for "shooting up", because it had appeared from nowhere and was vandalised over the years.
The school has no water, electricity and sanitation - and the windows are broken.
"We tried to use toilets at the nearby library but they soon had enough of us and refused us access," said James Timana, president of the Students Representative Council.
"We are happy to get into the new school," said Timana.
The chairman of the School Governing Body, Alco Ngobese, backed the pupils.
"I am 100 percent behind the children. They cannot be learning under such conditions," he said.
Ngobese said the school was supposed to have been completed in March last year.
Principal Themba Marulana declined to comment.
Departmental spokesman Nanagolo Leopeng confirmed that the new school was incomplete, but said the pupils were being moved into the completed blocks.
"We will be moving pupils to the completed blocks. We urge them to be patient," she said.