Unmarked school exam papers go up in smoke

Exam papers that were destroyed in a fire at a high school in northern KwaZulu-Natal were scripts that had not yet been marked, police said.

A fire ravaged parts of Siyelulama High School in Mtubatuba’s Thandanani area on Thursday night, destroying exam scripts, exam results, school records and other important documents being kept in the school’s administration office.

Police spokesperson Captain Jabulani Mdletshe said according to the school management exam papers that were written over the past few weeks by pupils in grade eight, nine and 10 were in the office. Matric exam papers had already been sent to marking centres.

Police said they were not ruling out the possibility that the fire may have been started by youths specifically to destroy exam results.

Education department spokesperson Christi Naude said she could not comment on whether exam papers were destroyed. ”We are sending a district manager to the school to get the facts and then we will comment,” she said.

Mdletshe said according to information, two separate fires were started in different parts of the school by a group that had allegedly broken into the school late on Thursday night.

”They went into the principal’s office and started a fire and then went into the administration room and started another fire,” he said.

Police were alerted by residents early on Friday morning.

Mdletshe said the fire in the principal’s office did not spread, but that the fire in the administration block had destroyed everything kept there. ”The school records, recent report cards, recent exam results, computers and equipment were all destroyed.”

Police said the second fire was put out at 6am. ”Police are investigating all possibilities, including the fact that the fire could have been started by a group of youths.”

He said hundreds of pupils who had arrived for classes on Friday were asked to stand outside the premises while police and fire officials continued their investigation.

A case of malicious damage to property has been opened, but police said this could turn into a case of arson. — Sapa

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