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Blame game between entities as Westbury school goes weeks without power

Westbury secondary school has been without power for six weeks.
Westbury secondary school has been without power for six weeks.
Image: SAMORN TARAPAN/123RF

A six-week power outage at Westbury secondary has sparked a blame game between City Power and the Gauteng department of education.

The school, situated in the middle of the gang-riddled community, has been without power for more than 40 days as a result of cable theft and vandalism to a substation at the institution.

A PR ward councillor in the City of Joburg, Theo Doyle, as well as community leader Pastor Jefferson Johnson both confirmed the ongoing issue.

“I'm in Riverlea so frustrated residents brought the matter to my attention,” Doyle said. “I first reached out to City Power who said we must contact the Gauteng departments of education and then infrastructure development. 

“It's a blame game between the department and City Power but [this affects] a school. There appears to be no urgency to sort this out and it's frustrating.” 

Doyle outlined the affect the power cut had before the school break, saying teachers were forced to print documents at local shops or at home. He expressed his shock at the unwillingness by both parties to resolve the issue.

“I can't believe that in this day and age, this is happening. I'm speaking up because the last thing I want is for the community to get up in arms.

“It's a school, I can survive without electricity, but they can't. And the scary part is that a brand new generator was bought a few years ago but it was never connected and it [too] ended up being vandalised,” he said.

Documents shared with TimesLIVE show a letter from the school's principal to the department outlining the issues from March 1. In it, she says a security door was stolen and four days later an electrical unit was vandalised. A day after that, cables were stolen and just two days later, circuit breakers were stolen.

In its response to the school, the department says the damage is for City Power to fix.

The school is advised to use its budget allocation to replace the circuit breakers once City Power replaces the electrical cables

City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena however, in a response to TimesLIVE, denied the onus was on them to fix the fault.

“The fault is not on the part of City Power. Our supply to the wall of the school is all and well. Apparently there was vandalism on the school side.

“The school or the department of education need to fix the damage on their side and once they are ready, City Power will reconnect power back on to the property. We are not responsible for power problems inside the school but up until the wall of the school,” Mangena said.

The department's Steve Mabona, in an official response, confirmed the outage and said it was due to cable theft and vandalism.

Mabona threw the ball back in City Power's court, saying the school's governing body had bought a generator for the administration block in the interim as they wait for “City Power to attend to the matter”.

“Teaching and learning will go ahead when the schools reopen for term two. We continue to appeal to community members to refrain from stealing valuable resources in our schools,” he said.

TimesLIVE

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