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Unsafe schools of no concern to COSATU – MEC

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Pupils from two high schools that engineers have been found to be structurally unsafe are still being taught in the buildings after the governing bodies refused to allow the children and their teachers be moved.

Last week, the provincial education ministry announced that reports from engineers had indicated that the buildings of Uitzig Secondary in Uitsig and Beauvallon High in Valhalla Park were not safe for continued occupation by teachers and pupils.

On Monday, Education MEC Debbie Schäfer sent Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich a letter in which she threatened to take legal against him for his “ongoing interference” at Uitzig.

She said she had been advised that Ehrenreich, during discussions with officials, had threatened violence if the provincial education department tried to move the pupils.

“To date it is still not clear to us what your involvement is in this school,” she wrote.

Schäfer said there were no staff members in danger of losing their jobs.

“There is thus no justification whatsoever for Cosatu to be involved in this matter other than to protect any of their members from working in an unsafe environment. You appear to be doing exactly the opposite.”

She said Ehrenreich would be held accountable should any teacher or pupil be injured or any of the property damaged.

“We are taking legal advice as to the implications of learners remaining on these premises, given the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.”

Ehrenreich said the two school communities had made their own decisions and all he had done was to communicate their decisions.

“Court and police cannot stop me from supporting and protecting the learners of workers,” he said.

He said the two communities didn’t trust the department who had allowed the state of the facilities to deteriorate.

The Uitzig parents were expected to address the press on Tuesday, and Ehrenreich said the parents were planning to do upgrades at the school themselves.

Schäfer’s spokeswoman, Jessica Shelver said in both cases a more detailed report on the condition of the facilities was being awaited.

She said the department’s initial plan was to move the children and teachers from Uitzig to Ravensmead Secondary, and the children from Beauvallon to John Ramsay, but the plans were met with resistance.

She said the department had spent millions of rands on repairs at the two schools over the past few years.

Shelver said the department was seeking further legal advice on the matter.

[Source: Cape Argus]
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