| PORT ELIZABETH

School for deaf burgled four times and set alight twice

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“All my colleagues are traumatised. We never expected such a calamity”

Photo of a fire gutted building
After being burgled four times, Reuben Birin Special School for the Hearing Impaired in Port Elizabeth was torched. Photo: Joseph Chirume
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Reuben Birin Special School for the Hearing Impaired has been burgled four times in the past week and was set alight on Thursday and then again on Saturday. Classes are suspended and the damage is in the millions of rands.

The school in Missionvale, Port Elizabeth, has 140 learners, 60 of them living in its hostels. Classes will restart once the debris is cleared.

Spokesperson for the Department of Education Loyiso Pulumani said the first burglary occurred on Monday 25 March at the administration block. Laptops and desktop computers were stolen. The second burglary was on Wednesday when all printers at the school were stolen. On Thursday the administration block was set alight and burnt to the ground. Then on Saturday night, twelve classrooms at the back of the school were torched.

The admin block also housed non-profit organisation Seizbyt, who in partnership with Reuben Birin, were providing computer training.

Pulumani said electricity in the area was off for the entire week due to road construction in the area, so the area was dark.

Eastern Cape Department of Education Superintendent General Themba Kojana said, “Schools are designated centres of community life. They are owned by the communities. It is unfortunate when the same communities allow for wanton destruction of property and stealing of expensive learning and teaching equipment. We call upon our communities to take responsibility for the safe upkeep of schools.”

School principal Mzwanele Blou said the school had 20 teachers. “All my colleagues are traumatised … We never expected such a calamity. We have had to postpone classes to next week to clean up,” said Blou.

District Director for the Eastern Cape Department of Education Ernest Gorgonzola said the damage could run to R15 million.

Eastern Cape Disability Economic Empowerment Trust director Thabiso Phetuka said, “I urge the community of Missionvale to work with the school and protect its infrastructure.”

Pulumani said the police were working overtime to ensure that the culprits were brought to book.

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TOPICS:  Crime Education

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