- Pupils at Ndengetho High in KwaZulu-Natal torched the school after police conducted a search and seizure operation on the premises.
- Police confiscated cellphones, weapons and drugs during the operation.
- The Department of Education condemned the behaviour, saying search and seizure operations helped to ensure community safety.
Pupils at a high school in KwaNdengezi in KwaZulu-Natal have torched their school in anger after police conducted a search and seizure operation and seized cellphones, weapons and drugs.
The incident, which took place at Ndengetho High School on Thursday, raised the ire of the provincial education department.
Police spokesperson Constable Thenjiswa Ngcobo said a case of malicious damage to property was opened at KwaNdengezi police station.
“The department condemns in the strongest possible terms the torching of classrooms and vandalism that took place at the school,” education department spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa said.
Mthethwa said pupils reacted negatively to the search and seizure operation after 400 cellphones were confiscated, resulting in the school being torched.
He said the confiscation of cellphones, which angered the pupils, was in line with the school’s code of conduct.
Shortly after police left, pupils turned on staff and began torching the premises.
Mthethwa said the police and education department had an agreement, which was signed more than a decade ago, which governed safety and security at schools.
“The police are acting in line with the agreement, which is aimed at eradicating crime in schools.”
He said that in terms of the agreement, all schools were linked to their local police stations.
He said 18 000 schools in South Africa were directly “assigned a police station to ensure that all schools are crime-free zones”.
Mthethwa reminded school management teams to ensure that codes of conduct at schools were adhered to “at all times”.
KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Mbali Frazer said:
Education department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said most pupils attended classes on Monday after a meeting between school management and the department.
“Our view was to have all the grades come back because all parents had committed [on Sunday] to bringing the pupils back.”
He said that despite the fire, there was “no reason to stagger the reopening of the school”.
DA provincial spokesperson on education Imran Keeka condemned the incident and called on police to hold those involved in the violence accountable.
“The alleged act of arson, so brazenly conducted, is criminal, and every effort must be made to bring down the law on those involved. When learners are allegedly involved in such destruction of property that is there for their own good, they are themselves responsible for damaging their future.
“We call upon SAPS to do everything in their power to bring the culprits to book. It is indeed sickening to the core that this has happened,” said Keeka.