Vandalism halts schooling at Alpine Primary

Former student governing body member, Luthfi Taliep, standing in the vandalised toilets.

Alpine Primary School pupils are back in class after operations at the school were temporarily suspended due to vandalism.

The Beacon Valley school had been targeted by vandals, leaving only 17 toilets in working condition for the 1 700 pupils to share.

Director of communications for the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), Bronagh Hammond, said temporary toilets were delivered on Wednesday January 22, but a group of parents would not let the toilets be installed.

Pupils returned to school on Monday January 27.

“Work has started on the permanent toilets and it’s progressing at a steady pace,” said Ms Hammond.

“Timetables are being adjusted so that pupils are able to use the toilets at different times to avoid congestion. Our priority is to ensure that the school is stabilised and teaching and learning continue. The fence is currently being procured.”

On Tuesday January 21, parents and guardians gathered at school with the staff to discuss the matter. All of the parents were in agreement to keep their children at home as their children’s health was at stake.

Both boys and girls had to use the girls’ toilets two weeks ago, said deputy principal Mohammad Ashraff Patel at the meeting on Tuesday.

The next day, Wednesday January 22, parents burned tyres in Glider Street, where the school is situated. After this happened, principal, Natasha Pather, was advised by police to not engage with the parents until the WCED arrived, and to wait for the situation to calm down.

“We cannot play with our children’s health like this, it is not right. Who is going to take responsibility if they fall sick or something bad happens? We are here to teach your children but the conditions of the toilets are unacceptable,” said Mr Patel.

The Walking Bus members controlled the traffic in and out of the girls’ toilet for about three days last week, but, said one of the members, Maraweya Meyer, fell sick while doing so.

Some of the parents were afraid to keep their children at home as they would fall behind with their school work if they stayed at home.

Parent Adelaide Williams, 36, from Beacon Valley, said children were missing out on chunks of work.

“How long are we going to wait for this to be solved?” she asked.

In response, Mr Patel asked if their education was more important than their children’s health as he would not allow his daughter to go to school if only one toilet is in working condition.

A grandmother Beverley Kruger, 56, from Montrose Park said the school needed tight security systems in place. “Where are they? If this is not in order we’ll sit with the same problems,” said Ms Kruger.

Mr Patel said the walking bus members had been on training a week before the meeting took place on Tuesday January 21.

The chairperson of the school governing body, Charmaine Maarman, said teachers stayed at school even though parents choose to keep their children at school.

Ricardo MacKenzie, member of the provincial legislature for Mitchell’s Plain, said contractors were contacted on Tuesday January 21 to fix the toilets. “We cannot have our children at home and out of school.”

The school is currently running as normal, with boys and girls able to use their respective toilets which have been repaired.