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Joburg district education office to remain closed as schools re-open

Gauteng MEC Panyaza Lesufi
Gauteng MEC Panyaza Lesufi
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

As provinces are gearing up for the re-opening of schools, the Johannesburg education district offices will remain closed as workers are demanding better working conditions.

The offices had been closed since March 3, and will affect about 139 public schools. The workers complained that the building did not comply with occupational health safety standards as the roof was leaking and the toilets were blocked.

In a written response to the provincial legislature, Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said the Gauteng department of infrastructure development (GDID), as mandated by his department, had not yet found alternative office space to house the Johannesburg East education district offices. Lesufi said the department was aware of the conditions at Johannesburg East district offices in Parkmore. "The department has engaged the landlord on several occasions to address the infrastructure challenges at the building. The building was leased by GDID for the department for the duration of nine years. The lease came to an end on February 28 and the rental was more than R1.3m a month," Lesufi said.

Lesufi said the relocation of the Johannesburg East district office was dependent on the acquisition of alternative office accommodation by the GDID. "The intention is to relocate the offices to the Sandton Business District as it has been confirmed as the most central and easily accessible location for the area that the district serves," Lesufi said.

DA Gauteng shadow education MEC Khume Ramulifho said it was concerning that there are no timeframes as to when the relocation of the employees will be completed.

"The DA is concerned that as the department is preparing for the re-opening of the schools during this critical national lockdown period as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, these employees will still not have office accommodation. We call on both MEC Lesufi and his counterpart, MEC for infrastructure development Tasneem Motara, to speed up the process of acquiring alternative office accommodation for the Johannesburg East district officials. Delays in acquiring alternative office accommodation for these employees while preparing for the re-opening of schools will have a huge impact on the schools in this district," Ramulifho said.