Never has any protest action over service delivery issues gotten as close to home as last night (Wednesday) when angry learners of Luthuli Park Combined School, a group of parents and members of the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) gathered at the entrance to Parliamentary Village in a bid to demand the attention of Education MEC Ishmael Kgetjepe on a host of grievances.
A rowdy group of youngsters engaged in revolutionary song and dance on both sides of the gates on the premises, with a contingent of Police initially keeping watch before driving them out.
It followed a sit-in at the MEC’s offices yesterday whereupon they had been removed by Police, explained Thobane Mohlaloga, who is President of the school’s Learner Representative Council, against the background of toyi-toying youth. The decision to proceed to the residential village had followed meetings with the Student Governing Body (SGB) and concerned parents late afternoon, he said.
According to Luthuli Park Combined School Student Governing Body Chairperson Clifford Mohloana, a small delegation intended to go to Premier Stan Mathabatha’s office this morning after a meeting at the school scheduled for 09:00 to demand of him to get Kgetjepe to intervene or step aside to make way for a more cooperative MEC.
He indicated that they would go to lengths to make their voices heard on matters that have been pending since the school had opened in 2001. Then it had been registered as a primary school, but was re-registered as a combined school after the first intake of Grade 8 learners upon completion of their primary school careers, he said. Mohloana continued stressing that due to the fact that the school had been designed for purposes of accommodating primary school learners, it was not a conducive environment and that the need for a high school existed.
The issue of broken furniture reportedly forcing learners to sit on firewood to be used in the on-site kitchen or to have to stand in class also had to be addressed, Mohloana emphasised. Polokwane Observer was informed that the school had always received donations of second-hand furniture from schools in the area.
Another bone of contention was an exorbitant rates bill owed by the school, it was learnt. By the time it became operational the school had a water and electricity bill of R100 000, he explained. During last night’s interview Mohlaloga mentioned the norms and standards fees were being used in an attempt to pay off the bill that had accumulated to R1 million.
When approached for comment the spokesperson for the Department of Education, Naledzani Rasila, indicated he did not have knowledge of the matter and undertook to follow it up. When he was phoned again he could not be reached.
Early morning Democratic Alliance (DA) Provincial Leader Jacques Smalle told Polokwane Observer he was on his way to the school for an oversight visit.
Story: YOLANDE NEL