Barely a week after a walkway at Hoërskool Driehoek in Vanderbijlpark collapsed killing four pupils, a union is warning of a disaster waiting to happen at another Gauteng school.
The Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie (SAOU) said eight classrooms in a three-storey building at Hoërskool Roodepoort were unusable, with sagging and cracked concrete slabs.
The trade union said a report submitted by an engineering company hired by the school governing body found the reinforced concrete slabs forming the classrooms’ floors had sagged by an average of 60mm. Cracks were clearly visible on the reinforced concrete slabs and at the fixed ends of the brickwork.
The union said that in terms of the National Building and Building Standards Act, the concrete slabs failed deflection and structural integrity standards.
Johan Kruger, the union’s operations director, said the City of Joburg had issued the school with a notice to the effect that it was in contravention of the Act.
“After more than a year-and-a-half of requests and in light of recent events, the matter has become critically urgent,” he said.
The structural integrity of the section was said to have been found to be far below acceptable standards set out in the Act.
The revelation of the dilapidated state of the school came as Africa Check revealed yesterday that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s last State of the Nation address included a pledge that the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative would “complete all outstanding projects by the end of the next financial year”.
Africa Check said the initiative identified 496 schools as “inappropriate structures”.
These included mud structures.
Africa Check researcher Cayley Clifford said that Ramaphosa, updating the country on the progress of the initiative, had said 187 schools had been completed and promised the programme would complete the rest by the end of the next financial year on March 31 this year.
But Clifford said data showed that only 205 schools, less than half the target, were completed.
The Democratic Alliance was denied access to the school yesterday. Its education spokesperson, Khume Ramulifho, said he suspected the department of education did not want to be exposed for “not having their house in order” ahead of the elections.
The department has sent an internal structural engineer to assess the structure and make recommendations.
Spokesperson Steve Mabona said the affected structures were not in use and the department was sourcing service providers to do repairs.
Earlier today, 6 February, the DA’s spokesperson for education and MPL, Khume Ramulifho, was also denied access to Hoërskool Roodepoort, allegedly on instruction of the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE).
This comes after the Record was denied access to the school earlier today, despite a media invitation from the DA.
Ramulifho told the Record that he suspected, due to it being election year, that the GDE most likely does not want to be exposed for “not having their house in order”. “For us, it’s about the safety of the learners. Parents are complaining. Currently 18 classrooms are not in use and learners are sitting at home,” said Ramulifho.
“I do not report to the MEC (Panyaza Lesufi), I am here to hold him accountable. The DA has the right to do oversight inspections, but the principal of Hoërskool Roodepoort told us the GDE had instructed them to not allow an inspection,” Ramulifho concl
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