Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has sternly warned community members not to damage the newly reopened Everest Primary School in Westbury, Johannesburg which was relaunching on Wednesday.
“You burn down this school or you vandalise this school, you’ll see it to finish… we are not going to take any money from elsewhere and come and rebuild something that we have already built,” he said to a round of applause from community members.
Lesufi told people to express their grievances against political parties or the government by approaching him instead of attacking schools and damaging property.
“If you are angry, I am an anger absorber, come to me and leave my schools alone… because it does not make sense to build these kind of schools, and when you come back here in the next six months, the school will be different because somebody has stolen a door or somebody has vandalised it,” Lesufi said.
The new building replaces a school built from asbestos material.
The MEC said there were currently 21 schools built with asbestos material in Gauteng.
“The problem with asbestos schools is that the material that they use for asbestos is very toxic, so the cost of building this school… is high, because you have to remove that asbestos. It’s a legislated process,” he said.
He pleaded with communities that believed that there was a delay in removing asbestos schools to remain patient, as the department had plans to build new schools for communities.
“Since 2014, we have been opening a new school every month, and we will continue to open a new school every month until 2019. This is the 42nd school that we are opening since 2014,” he said.
Lesufi said the school cost just under R100-million to build with costs inflated due to the presence of asbestos.
During a question and answer opportunity, Lesufi said he had heard reports of an attack on a parent at embattled Hoërskool Overvaal in Vereeniging, adding that he would visit the school on Wednesday afternoon.
Hoërskool Overvaal won a case against the department in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria last week when Judge Bill Prinsloo set aside the department’s decision to admit 55 pupils who were to be taught in English at the Afrikaans medium school.
Lesufi explained that the 55 pupils had since been placed at an alternative school with the approval of their parents.
The parents, Lesufi explained, were concerned as they had already bought uniforms, and the school was closer to them, heightening anxiety over transport costs.
“The two schools that the judge said there is space, there is no space – we can demonstrate with evidence. We know where it’s full and where it’s not full – we have placed the [pupils] in alternative schools pending the appeal process,” he said.
Lesufi said that he would be back to visit the Westbury community, along with the provincial Premier David Makhura. — News24