'Barbarians' loot school, steal more than R1 million worth of PPE's

The burglary of Lekazi Primary School brings to 150 the number of schools that have been hit by criminals in Mpumalanga.
The burglary of Lekazi Primary School brings to 150 the number of schools that have been hit by criminals in Mpumalanga.
Image: 123RF/paylessimages

Lekazi Primary School in KaNyamazane, in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, lost personal protective equipment worth more than R1m following a burglary at the weekend.

On Monday, pupils and teachers found the school's windows and doors broken. In some classrooms, the roof had been removed during the break-in that happened early on Monday.

According to school principal Jabu Mhlongo, the burglary was the second since March.

The criminals, who are believed to have used wheelbarrows and a bakkie, broke cameras and alarms before stealing food for the feeding scheme, a stove, laptops, face masks and sanitisers.

The burglary brings to 150 the number of schools that have been hit by criminals in the province since the start of the lockdown in March.

"Before we went to the March holidays, they broke into our school and stole laptops and printing machines," said Mhlongo.

"Though we managed to trace the machine, there's fear in this community and if you know the people or you want to act against them you get threatened with death by some people.

"We have lost hope and we are trying by all means to make teaching and learning easy but they steal projectors which we use for teaching."

MEC for community safety, security and liaison Gabisile Shabalala said the incident was barbaric.

"It can't be that the school is being broken into and no-one knows anything. These criminals are from this community; there's no one who can come from far to steal here. These are barbarians who need to be brought to book because they think they are stealing from the school but in fact, they are stealing the future of our children," Shabalala said.

"I'm calling for the police to bring all the cases opened on this school and all the other schools in the province and they should get the priority it deserves because this has to do with the future of our children. The youth of 1976 fought for education and now we must keep their endeavours alive by arresting those vandalising and stealing from our schools."

Police spokesperson Brig Leonard Hlathi said they had arrested one suspect in connection with the first break-in. "He's going to appear in court in June 24, and for this break-in, our police are hot on the heels of those responsible."

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