Philippi residents demand decent school building

Philippi East residents and their children protest outside KwaFaku Primary School to demand that the Western Cape Education Department attend to their demands for the demolition of the school building.

Residents of Philipi East have vowed to make the area ungovernable if the government does not fix the dilapidated school building.

A large group of Philippi East residents shutdown the KwaFaku Primary School premises with a loud but peaceful toyi-toyi to demand that the Western Cape Department of Education (WCED) demolish the facility’s building because it is in too terrible a state to be a learning centre for their children.

The mostly women and men protesters complained that the building of the 17-year-old school was not in a conducive state to accommodate young children for learning purposes because it has structural defects that include cracked walls, unventilated classrooms, broken windows, leaking roofs and blocked toilets, posing enormous life risks to the learners.

They also alleged that broken windows left some of their young ones asthmatic or experiencing sinus problems because of the wind and dust.
They are demanding that the government demolish the structure and replace it with a new one or temporary structures.

Local residents point out at a cracked toilet block’s concrete roof and a broken toilet pipes. Photos by Mandla Mnyakama

A tour around the facility revealed long cracks in the leaking concrete roof of one of the learners’ toilet block as well as broken water pipes.

The girls’ toilet block was inaccessible because of flooded floors, with some of the blocked toilets bearing broken seats. The foam material used with cement slabs for the facility’s walls is also a problem and left the residents uncertain about the durability of the innovatively designed building.

It was also reported that the WCED had made empty promises after it was alerted about the matter when it met residents last February.

The protesting residents have vowed to continue with the action and make the area ungovernable until the WCED attends to their demands. They also blocked the adjacent Luzuko Road with rubble and stones.

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Learners in school uniform and plain clothes joined their parents in the action.

Doris Mhlakaza, Nompumelelo Mlan-du and Penny Kibi, all parents at the school complained that their children aged seven, eight and thirteen years suffered from asthma and sinus problems because of the wind and dust that enters classrooms.

“This has turned out to look like a chicken shed and a coffin. It‘s no more suitable to accommodate our children,” moaned Kibi.

“This community will be forced to continue to protest and shut down this facility further if they continue to fail us.

“We are not going to allow another TB Joshua case here. This is a great life risk to these young children,” said Dlala.

WCED spokesperson, Jessica Shelver, said the department has included KwaFaku Primary School in its budget for replacement. Construction is expected to start at the beginning of 2019.

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