Seaview’s Phambili High reclaims stolen school property

A classroom reclaimed and ready for grades 8 and 9.

PHAMBILI High School in Seaview has won a 14-year battle with illegal tenants at one of its premises adjacent to the main school building.

The school became aware of the illegal tenants in 2005 when the water and electricity bill was so high the Department of Education was forced to investigate.

Also read: Phambili appeals for sponsors to help rebuild school

That is when they discovered there was another water and electricity meter across the road in the school’s name.

According to the principal, Londa Luthuli, the people have illegally taken over the premises.

“Before the school became Phambili High School in 1997, it was called Saamwerk Primêre which was closed,” he said.

Luthuli said the primary school used to have a pre-school across the road which fed learners into the school and when it closed down, the caretaker rented the pre-school premises for his personal gain without informing the new owners about the premises.

The Department of Education attempted to claim back the building in 2005 and the Durban High Court ruled that four different departments needed to relocate the tenants and it was only in 2014 when the four tasked departments met and the eThekwini Municipality asked them to profile the tenants to see if they qualify for government housing.

“The tenants refused to give the relevant information and the matter was moved to City Hall to be discussed by the council and it was later adjourned until further notice,” Luthuli said.

 

Protest
It was only in 2018 that the parents unearthed this matter when they were fed up with the overcrowding of classrooms and demanded a meeting with the tenants and the school.

According to the principal in early February the department of Public Works intervened as a mediator to intervene a meeting between the parents, school and illegal tenants.

Also read: Youth honours sacrifes for freedom

The tenants refused to attend the meeting which led to the parents confronting the tenants directly on Friday, 16 February and demanded the classrooms on Monday, 19 February.

It was when the demands by the parents were not met by the tenants that sparked a protest and the parents forcefully removed tenants out of three classrooms and started cleaning them and moved desks and chairs.

“The following day the tenants moved back in, throwing out all the desks and chairs set up by the parents the previous day, this action called the parents back to the school as they were not going to back down,” he said.

According to the principal one of the tenants fired a riffle which caused the learners to retaliate by throwing stones of which the police had to intervene.

At a meeting at the police station the tenants agreed to vacate the building by Tuesday, 27 February.

 

Way forward
The school will use the premises as its GET section for Grade 8 and 9.

Learning will start immediately despite despite the disconnection of water and electricity. “We want to show the community that we mean business, we have fought for this building for 14 years we cant back down now,” said Luthuli.

The school is also in talks with the department of Transport to make the road around the school safer for crossing but in the meantime the school will use learner patrols to help the learners cross the road.

 

 

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  AUTHOR
Khethukuthula Lembethe-Xulu

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