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Walkway disaster waiting to happen at Ennerdale school

Ennerdale Secondary School's walkway bridge is supported by scaffolding to prevent it from collapsing.
Ennerdale Secondary School's walkway bridge is supported by scaffolding to prevent it from collapsing.
Image: Mduduzi Ndzingi

Another potentially deadly walkway at a Gauteng school has been cordoned off as parents feared for their children's safety.

Parents at Ennerdale secondary school in Lenasia, south of Johannesburg, were so worried about structural defects in the walkway that they described it as a disaster waiting to happen.

The school governing body (SGB) said its pleas to the Gauteng department of education to fix the defective structure had fallen on deaf ears for the past five years.

Following the collapse of a similar walkway at Hoërskool Driehoek in Vanderbijlpark which claimed the lives of four pupils, parents at the Ennerdale school stopped pupils walking underneath the walkway.

SGB chairperson Delphine Botha said scaffolding had been used permanently since 2016 to support the walkway from collapsing.

Botha said numerous letters were written to the department but nothing had been done. "We have proof of all the letters and emails sent to the department. The school is 30 years old and it has never been maintained. The department only sent an engineer in 2016 who recommended that the school be fixed immediately but nothing has happened.

"We can't risk the lives of our teachers and pupils but then again they are not safe as that thing can collapse at any moment. One can see it is slowly breaking off from where it is attached to classroom walls."

Another concerned parent, Gavin Raas, said he also reported the matter to the department. "I had to borrow the scaffolds from my construction friends just to keep the walkway together. We are very worried about the safety of our children," he said.

Chad McBride, 16, a grade 12 pupil, said he wanted to come to school to learn and not worry about his safety in case the walkway collapsed one day.

"We decided to stop using the bridge as we would feel it moving. The condition of our school is frustrating because for the past two weeks our teachers refused to teach as they said they fear for their lives," he said.

Ranleigh Delport, chairperson of the Gauteng Shutdown Coordinating Committee, said the department should provide temporary mobile structures.

Gauteng education spokesperson Steve Mabona said the department had noted all schools with infrastructure defects and had sent out internal structural engineers to conduct assessments.

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