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Blaze damages city school

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The 10 rooms of the administration block were engulfed in flames by the time the fire brigade arrived.

BAD START: The main administration block at Zingisa Intermediate School burned down yesterday. Picture: Boipelo Mere

IT WAS not a good start to the academic year for teachers at Zingisa Intermediate School, who arrived at the school on Monday to discover that the administration block was ablaze.

A passer-by noticed that the building was on fire and alerted the school governing body (SGB) chairperson, Mthuthuzeli Matshoba, who lives close to the school.

The 10 rooms of the administration block were engulfed in flames by the time the fire brigade arrived.

According to Matshoba, he alerted the police and the fire brigade when he saw smoke coming out of the roof of the building.

“I made the discovery just after 7am and there were still no staff members on the premises. By the time they arrived to report for duty ahead of the reopening of schools on Wednesday, they were shocked by what was happening,” said Matshoba.

He added that the cause of the fire would be investigated by the police and the Northern Cape Department of Education.

“The gates of the school were locked throughout the school holidays.”

Matshoba added that he hoped that no school books were damaged in the fire.

“The school has two administration blocks and the one that burnt down was the main one. This is a sad day for us and it is a concern as schools are about to reopen.

“We really hope the fire did not result in books and other infrastructure being damaged. By the time we arrived it was difficult to save anything.”

The fire, however, is not expected to delay the start of the academic year. “Fortunately the staff were able to use the other administration block for their year planning.”

The spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Education, Geoffrey van der Merwe, confirmed knowledge of the fire. He said that besides the damage to the building, a few textbooks, as well as some equipment and furniture, were destroyed.

“We are still awaiting a detailed report from the district Department of Education on the extent of the damage and the estimated costs.

“A contingency plan will be done by the district office in order to allow school to commence as planned on Wednesday,” said Van der Merwe.

The department commended the Sol Plaatje Fire Brigade for extinguishing the fire before further damage was caused.

Meanwhile, the Northern Cape provincial government is set to launch the Love Your School campaign later this month, which is aimed at strengthening community involvement and participation in the education environment.

“The defence of our schools must come from the community,” the MEC for Education, Mac Jack, said yesterday, referring to break-ins and incidents of vandalism at schools.

According to Jack, the programme also seeks to improve the management and maintenance of especially sanitation facilities at schools and to increase awareness of good sanitation and hygiene practices.

“The Love Your School campaign will take schools’ sanitation programmes into the next phase because it will also focus on educating school staff and cleaners on how to keep their toilets clean on an ongoing basis as they continue to practice good hygiene habits.

“A school represents a beacon of hope in every community, where we prepare pupils for success.”