It is difficult to find words harsh enough to express our disgust at what happened at Ndengetho High School in the tiny township of KwaNdengezi in Durban this week.
It all started with a simple visit by the police to the school to ferret out weapons, drugs and other undesirable possessions – something that has become routine and necessary in this violent and drug-riddled country of ours.
Having dispossessed some pupils of these objects, the police left the premises. No sooner had they turned their backs than some of the pupils went on a rampage. They attacked teachers, who had to run for cover, after which the riotous pupils then turned on the school building itself, torching it.
The timing of this riot couldn’t have been worse, as some of the children would have been preparing for their final matric exams.
Some of them would already have been accepted for admission at tertiary institutions based on their mid-year results, as is the norm. Now, their dreams of entering institutions of higher learning next year are all but shattered.
Sadly, what happened at that school is not an isolated event. It’s a reflection of the rot that is blighting many of our schools – to the detriment of those kids who still dream of a better future for themselves.
As a society, we need to ask ourselves why we seem to be rearing a feral generation and what we need to do to cure this. But that is a longer-term project.
A more urgent intervention here would be to find an alternative plan for the matric pupils.
While we must condemn what happened, and ask the authorities to punish the culprits, we need an immediate solution for those kids whose future now hangs in the balance. We cannot throw our hands up in despair. Let’s huddle and salvage whatever can still be rescued from this debacle.