Gauteng premier David Makura has sent out a strong message to communities that if they continue vandalising government property his administration will not rebuild them.

This comes after Khutlo Tharo Secondary school was set alight on Wednesday morning in Sebokeng in the Vaal.

Makhura was addressing the media following the opening of a newly built Noordgesig Primary school in Soweto on the first day of school reopening.

“We build facilities as good as this one because our communities want those facilities. They must protect them. Every community must know in Gauteng. If you burn down a school or burn down library or burn down a clinic this government I lead is not going to come there and build a new one. We want communities to take responsibility as well. During protests, they must not vandalise facilities that belong to them,” says Makhura.

Makura’s announcement has split the education fraternity. While some school governing bodies support the premier’s stance, teachers and learners say they should be the ones to bear the brunt.

Last year Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said it cost him R140 million to repair 28 vandalised schools in 2017.

Makhura says his administration cannot build new schools, clinics and libraries only to be brought to the ground by the same communities they were meant for. He appealed to law enforcement agencies to find those responsible for vandalism of government property.

“When we build facilities as good as this one because our communities want those facilities, they must protect them. Every community must know in Gauteng if you burn down a school or burn down the library or burn down a clinic this government I lead is not going to come there and build a new one. We want communities to take responsibility as well. During protests, they must not vandalised facilities that belong to them.”

National Association of School Governing Bodies General secretary, Matakanye Matakanya says even though the move by the premier will affect the learners – he supports the call – as communities must stop vandalising schools.

“I support the premier. We can’t really keep on building, destroying, building, destroying. These resources are not really enough. And then our people must start to know that now these schools are no more state schools. These schools are referred to as public schools. These schools are theirs. They must take care of these schools and stop vandalising them. We don’t really support the community because all these people who are vandalising the schools, they stay within the community and the community knows them. I don’t know why the community keeps on tolerating this crime.”

But teacher union SADTU’s Nomusa Cembi says Makhura’s decision means schools will have to spend their own budgets on repairs.

“It is sad that the premier had to resort to such. This will affect the education of learners adversely because more money is going to be spent on fixing the schools instead of buying learning and teaching material and ensuring that schools have adequate resources. So more money is going to be spent on infrastructure.”

COSAS General Secretary, Teboho Magafane has called on the premier to reconsider his decision.

“We are lobbying the society that they need to take care of our schools but we are saying to the premier he must not be emotional. He must start getting facts. What transpired because the society is vandalising the schools learners must suffer. Learners can not suffer because of irresponsible parent or society that being suffocated by the system.”