Schools get their supply

AFTER the BaPhalaborwa municipality in Limpopo cut off water supply to defaulting schools, principals tried to pay their accounts.

Sowetan's visits to the municipality on Wednesday and yesterday was greeted by a number of principals from Namakgale and Lulekani who were queueing to settle their debts.

By yesterday, all the 24 schools owing the municipality a total of R4,8million had made payments to their accounts. The council said the debts accumulated since 2005.

For the nearly 24000 pupils, whose preparations for the exams were interrupted for about nine days, the latest developments has brought a sigh of relief.

Sewela Motloutsi, mother of a Grade 11 pupil at the Vuxeni High School, could not hide her happiness after the taps were opened at the school.

Marcia Malatji of Sebalamakgolo, who is in Grade 12, said she was happy that the water supply to the school had been reconnected.

The municipality said the schools owed it money debited by the Lepelle Northern Water Board.

In an effort to force the schools to settle their accounts, the municipality cut off the water supply.

As a result, principals had to send pupils home because of blocked toilets that were posing a health hazard.

But the department claimed it had allocated R500million to schools, mostly in quintile 1 and 2 (found in the poor communities) to help address issues around water, fencing and electricity.

Municipal spokesperson Elliot Ramachele said the council opened the water to the taps yesterday at all the schools - including those that settled their accounts in full or those that paid half or quarter of the money and made written undertakings to settle the balance.

Ramachele could not reveal how much money they have collected from the schools so far.

The action to cut off water at the schools may have an effect on departmental MEC Dickson Masemola's plans to improve the the poor matric results in the province.

Masemola had said at a recent media briefing that Limpopo's matric results would never be the same again.