Pupils burn school again

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi and Sapa

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi and Sapa

Students at a school in trouble-torn Khutsong ran amok yesterday morning and burnt a classroom and storeroom.

But there were differing views on why the Badirile High students had disrupted exams and set fire to the school.

"It is students who failed Grade 11 last year," North West education department spokesman Charles Raseala said.

"A teacher at the school tampered with their marks and they were illegally promoted to matric this year.

"They have been found out and now they refuse to go back and repeat Grade 11."

But Paul Ncwane, organiser of the Merafong Demarcation Forum, said: "These pupils were demoted because they are anti-North West.

"They stood by our demand to remain in Gauteng.

"I think someone came from nowhere and tried to cripple their future. They are targeting Badirile pupils because they are known for their stand against incorporation into North West."

Police spokesman Superintendent Louis Jacobs said the pupils started the fire just before 10am.

Raseala said the students were writing mid-year examinations when they were interrupted "by the unruly group".

"They were not satisfied with the arrangement to start writing exams today [Monday]," he said.

He said the students referred to themselves as members of the Congress of SA Students (Cosas) while running around and vandalising property.

The teachers co-operated and stopped invigilating the exams.

"We have called on parents and the leadership in Khutsong to rise to the occasion and help us stabilise the situation," Raseala said.

"All we are now concerned about is the state of education."

The students were sent home and Jacobs said the situation was calm.

No students were arrested but cases of arson and malicious damage to property were opened.

Raseala said the school would be open today. But it was not clear when the students would return and when classes would resume.

Cosas was not immediately available for comment and police were patrolling the area .

The school was rocked by violent incidents last year, which forced matric students to be relocated to Taung, where they wrote their year- end examinations.