School set on fire five times by unknown person

The parents from Mgomanzi R4 in Butterworth say it is like a folktale they will never forget. Their school, Mgomanzi Senior Secondary School has been set on fire on multiple occasions by an unknown person.

When they try to fix a certain section of the school, the next day they wake up to another side burnt. The parents have always maintained that the person who sets the school on fire is unknown, and the cause is unknown even though there have been all sorts of accusations flying. The parents believe the person who sets the school on fire does not have a child studying at this school, and that the unknown person is cruel by ruining their children’s futures.

Walls are what is left standing at Mgomanzi Senior Secondary School in Butterworth after the school suffered its fifth burning incident. Picture: BHEKI RADEBE

Now they are calling on the authorities to help them as their children have to travel long distances to go to the school they are temporary paced in.

The students were taught outside for a long time after the school burned down in June this year, the classrooms were destroyed by the fire. After a while they evacuated to another village that has a school that does not have many children, Khanyisa J.S.S. This school is also in a bad condition because it does not have windows and doors.

Khanyisa J.S.S where the Mgomanzi students are currently placed. Picture: BHEKI RADEBE

Mgomanzi Senior Secondary School has caught fire for the fifth time this year and what disheartens the parents is that no one has been found or arrested in the investigation conducted by Butterworth detectives.

This government constructed school was of a very high standard but all that is in vain because all the classrooms are dismantled, including the computer rooms.

Mgomanzi Senior Secondary School classroom left wrecked after the school was set on fire. Picture: BHEKI RADEBE

The parents say next year they will have to transfer their children to the town of Butterworth which is the nearest place because other schools in the villages are far away.

These parents say that option is costly because they are disadvantaged, and this school (Mgomanzi) has helped them a lot.

They revealed that the Department of Education said they are unable to rebuild the school because the school has been rebuilt numerous times and burnt down each time. The parents as well as the residents said that they have made tons of effort to restore the school, even holding prayer gatherings to try to stop this disaster of burning the school and leaving no trace.

The local headman allowed I’solezwe lesiXhosa to visit the school to assess the situation first-hand.

A committee member, Funekile Buqwana, who was permitted by the headman to speak to the media, says that they are not taking this situation well. Buqwana says that they spent more than R12 000, money they contributed as parents trying to renovate another classroom for the children because they were already studying outside. Even that room they built themselves was burnt down.

“The dilemma is next year because now they are placed in Khanyisa which is not their village, it is in another place and our children can be evicted any time. This is a concern because if they are evicted, that is where the future of disadvantaged children ends,” said Buqwana.

“That is why we are asking anyone to revive this school because it will be difficult in the coming years for us disadvantaged parents. We ask for money for building materials, we will build it ourselves,” said Buqwana.

This committee member continued, “What is burning this school has not only killed the future of our children, but it has also killed our future as parents who did not complete our studies. We were hoping that our children would learn and study for us.”

A parent with a child studying at this school, Thandeka Mcenge says that it is painful for children from R4, R7 and Mpundu villages in Nqamakwe to walk that long distance to Khanyisa.

Mcenge says that when it rains, the children do not go to school because they have to cross a rain-swollen river and there is not enough transportation to transport all the children.

She says they are asking for any sort of help so their children can return from their temporary placement in Khanyisa.

It is reported that numerous community meetings have been held to come up with a solution.

Another parent, Nomzamo Gwalisa, says that the villages who have children studying at Mgomanzi came together and contributed money. Even though they did not have money, Gwalisa says they did this because they are fighting for their children’s future.

“Our children were cold when they were taught outside. When we used the money we got from the contributions to renovate a portion of the school, it also got burnt. That is displeasing,” said Gwalisa.

Students said this disturbs them a lot. They also said going around the village not having a place to study troubles them a lot. They said they are trying because they want to pass but it is not easy to see themselves studying outdoors.

They are also complaining about the case that has not progressed, saying that the detective who is investigating the case is silent. They say there is no indication, and that makes them hopeless.

The school principal stepped down out of fear of the mysterious fires, according to the parents.

A woman who cooks at this school, Mam’ Tshawe, who also walks to Khanyisa, says it is difficult because the school was at her doorstep. Now she has to look for transport to go to the school in Khanyisa to cook.

The parents are asking for a good Samaritan to revive the school so the children and teachers can return.