Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga must explain how textbooks came to be dumped for disposal at a site in Seshego, near Polokwane, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Saturday.
“The Democratic Alliance in Limpopo inspected the site … yesterday where a contractor is claiming that they are being paid by government to destroy the books,” DA spokesperson on education Desiree van der Walt said in a statement.
Motshekga needed to immediately explain the contractor’s claims, she said.
“It is unthinkable that books which are still of value to children with no access to reading material could be disposed of in this careless way.”
“What kind of a person or regime sanctions the destruction of books?”
The shortages of reading material in schools across Limpopo made the destruction of the books “unacceptable”, Van der Walt said.
Earlier, Congress of the People (Cope) MP Tshilidzi Ravhuanzwo said the party was made aware about a week ago that the “piles and piles” of books were being dumped.
Books and stationery, some still in their original packaging, were being burnt and shredded.
“So many schools don’t have books, and [even old books] could have been used in libraries,” she said.
Ravhuanzwo said that books from the previous curriculum would still be useful to teachers and pupils because the learning content did not change.
“We really need those old books, I would have like to have stopped them [destroying the books].
Limpopo education department spokesperson Pat Kgomo said the matter only came to the department’s attention on Friday.
How the materials came to be dumped was under investigation, he said.
On Friday, Motshekga denied blame for a delay in the delivery of textbooks to the province’s schools.
“I have not considered resigning,” she told reporters in Polokwane.
“The best I can do is sort out what I started. I won’t jump ship.”
She blamed the delay on factors including cash flow and administrative problems.
In May, the High Court in Pretoria ruled the department’s failure to provide textbooks violated the Constitution. The application was brought by rights organisation Section 27.
Motshekga said her department had met with Section 27 and agreed to move the deadline to Wednesday. — Sapa.