“Grade 12 pupils will have to write under difficult and inhumane conditions. They are refusing to relieve themselves in the veld. Other grades are also busy with their year-end exams. The toilets are blocked and pupils will not be able to respond to the call of nature.”
MATRIC pupils in Pampierstad and Philipstown in the Northern Cape will be writing their final examinations on Thursday while there is no water supply at their respective schools.
The chairperson of the school governing body (SGB) at Kgomotso High School in Pampierstad, Chris Sekgweleo, said that a borehole malfunction had been reported to the Northern Cape Department of Education about four months ago, when it originally started giving problems.
“An official from the department’s infrastructure unit visited the school in June and promised to fix it. Parents and the SGB raised funds and spent over R3 000 on purchasing new parts but it is still out of order. We think that it is an electrical fault,” said Sekgweleo.
He added that pupils were sent home on Monday but had to return to school on Wednesday to write their exams. “The matric pupils will start writing on Thursday, November 5, whether there is water or not, as they cannot afford to throw away their futures. Grade 12 pupils will have to write under difficult and inhumane conditions. They are refusing to relieve themselves in the veld. Other grades are also busy with their year-end exams. The toilets are blocked and pupils will not be able to respond to the call of nature.”
Sekgweleo stated that there were no alternative exam venues available as all the other local schools did not have additional capacity to be utilised as exam centres.
“Neighbours in the area are providing the school with water from their boreholes for drinking purposes and so that food can be cooked for pupils who are beneficiaries of the school nutrition programme.”
Sekgweleo indicated that there were 203 matric pupils registered to write their National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations in Pampierstad.
“There are a total of 905 pupils at the school and without water, Covid-19 health regulations as well as basic hygiene practices cannot be observed.”
Community members added that water and electricity cuts were implemented in Pampierstad over the past two months.
“Last week there was no water throughout Pampierstad while recently we had no water for five weeks.”
The MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Abraham Vosloo, last week informed National Council of Provinces (NCOP) delegates who were visiting Northern Cape municipalities that Phokwane Local Municipality owed Eskom R136.4 million, while R46.6 million was outstanding to Vaalharts Water and Sedibeng Water was owed R109.1 million.
Vosloo added that there was a shortfall of R14 million for the provision of free basic services while bulk purchases of water and electricity was overspent by 210 percent.
He expressed concern that the municipality would not be able to adequately sustain the provision of free bulk water and electricity.
Phokwane Municipality spokesperson Kgalalelo Letshabo said that the municipality’s budget had not been funded for the past five years. “This led to the municipality defaulting on payment for bulk supplies including to Eskom, Sedibeng and Vaalharts Water.”
She explained that a new proposal was made to increase the amount of repayments to Eskom with effect from November 2020. “Eskom is considering this proposal. There is a payment agreement with Vaalharts that includes the full payment of the current account and a contribution R200 000 to reduce historical debt.”
Letshabo said that Sedibeng Water was the service provider for water in Pampierstad.
“It has been experiencing challenges in recent weeks. In the interim, the municipality is supplying tankering services to fill up the water tanks in the area. We have also not cut off any electricity services in Pampierstad as they are serviced by Eskom.
“The 210 percent over-expenditures arose during the 2020/21 financial year as the municipality captured the bulk supply invoices of the previous financial year in order to correct the financial record of the municipality. This resulted in the expenditure of bulk services increasing beyond the budget figure of the financial year. The correction of the financial records was unavoidable in the light of the directives of the intervention.”
DA Member of Parliament Willem Faber is meanwhile concerned that the ongoing water crisis in Renosterberg Local Municipality will jeopardise the matric exams in Philipstown.
“Philipstown residents have been battling under the strain of water shortages for the past couple of weeks already,” said Faber on Wednesday.
He stated that Grade 12 pupils attending Philipstown High School who will be writing their first paper on Thursday will not be able to wash their hands or use the toilets at the school. “Surely they cannot be expected to leave the exams mid-way in search of bathroom facilities.
“Their health should also be strictly protected, with stringent hygiene measures. If they fall ill or become infected with Covid-19 they will not be able to complete their examinations.
“The impact that the water crisis is having on residents and learners in Philipstown is far reaching.”
Faber indicated that Philipvale Primary School closed daily between 9am and 10am because of the water shortage.
“Children at the school have to go into the community to make use of people’s private toilets if they need to relieve themselves during school times. Often children who go to the toilet simply do not return to school, posing a further threat to their education.”
A Philipstown resident added that there was often no water for up to four days at a time.
“There is no water to bath or drink. We collect water from a leaking pipe outside the town but it is very near to the sewage and it is not very clean. No provisions were made to transport water to the schools.”
The Northern Cape Department of Education did not respond to media enquiries.