Learners march to Eskom as school has been without electricity for several months

SGB says that illegal connections are to blame for the outage

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Learners from Bloekombos High marching in Kraaifontein, Cape Town on Thursday to demand that Eskom restore electricity supply to their school. Photo: Vincent Lali

Learners from Bloekombos High marched through the streets of Kraaifontein, Cape Town on Thursday and again on Friday morning to demand that Eskom restores electricity supply to their school. They say the school has been without consistent supply for several months.

Learner representative Njabulo Klaas said: “We went to Eskom’s offices to tell officials that we don’t have electricity.”

Physical Sciences teacher Yandisa Ndwandwa said the power outage prevents them from using photocopy machines to print classwork. “We also can’t use projectors. As a result, it takes us two days to teach a lesson that would normally take a day. Our classrooms are dark in winter,” he said.

The area around the school is riddled with illegal electricity connections.

Grade 12 learner Akhona Mbotshane said: “Some of us already have poor eyesight, so we can’t see properly in the classroom when it’s dark. I’m worried that we are bound to fail under these circumstances.”

“We want Eskom to restore electricity and remove illegal connections that affect our access to electricity,” he said.

School Governing Body chairman Mbulelo Ncedani blamed the electricity outage on illegal connections. “Last year we traced electrical wires to the new informal settlement and removed them, but it was connected again,” he said.

Kobus Lamprecht, a senior depot technician at Eskom, told GroundUp that they are waiting for a wayleave from the City of Cape Town to install new wiring to reconnect the school.

Lamprecht said that to restore electricity to the school, Eskom needs to fix wires located in nearby occupation, but can’t do so because shacks are built around them.

Bronagh Hammond, spokesperson for the Western Cape Department of Education said, “The school’s electricity supply is currently not working. The school has a generator to fulfill the basic needs. Attempts to get electricity up and running full time have yet to be resolved.”

Hammond said the department communicated with Eskom about the power outage, but “the school has been informed that the issue is difficult to resolve.”

“While teaching and learning can continue without electricity, it excludes any access to technology in classrooms,” she said.

Hammond said the school management, and provincial education department officials met community leaders on Monday and Tuesday who said they were “monitoring the disconnection of all illegal connections”. The City and Eskom are yet to formally respond to GroundUp’s questions.

TOPICS:  Electricity

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