A Durban school has been forced to close due to a sewage spill. St Augustine’s Primary School had to send its learners home two weeks ago due to a huge sewage discharge on a neighbouring road that overflowed onto the school premises.
For hygiene and safety concerns, the School Governing Body (SGB) says a decision was taken to temporarily shut down the school until the matter is resolved.
Raw sewage flooded classrooms and playgrounds, and the stench remains unbearable.
The SGB says attempts to receive help from the eThekwini Municipality and the provincial Department of Education have been unsuccessful.
SGB member, Nomathemba Makhanya says, “The learners were becoming sick because of the smell. Some were vomiting and some had headaches. So parents were told to come and fetch their children. The teachers were also getting sick. The municipality people came to check the drains but nothing happen it was worse.”
With learners now at home, parents are concerned about the lost academic time with second-term examinations looming.
Some say they are also now worried about their children’s safety at home while they are at work.
One parent says, “My child is doing Grade 7 and next year she is going to Grade 8, that will be another school. So the result as it is now, they are not coming to school. What will happen when she goes to another school? She will go there with bad results because she is not studying, she’s doing nothing. She’s sitting at home, so I am very worried about that.”
Another parent says, “It is very unsafe to live your kids at home alone. No one is at home currently and anything can happen. So this is really concerning, please we need some help. We need these kids to come back to come to school, the municipality must get on board. Anyone who can assist please.”
Spokesperson for the eThekwini Municipality, Lindiwe Khuzwayo, blames the spill on what she’s called foreign debris, that she says has been thrown into the sewage systems.
She says the municipal workers have been on the ground working to resolve the problem, but that this is likely to take some time.
“It is quite bad. Our teams have already been working on it for three days. They will continue to work on it until it’s unblocked. The blockage is not just in one place. It is in the sewage line and several places. Why it is taking such a long time to unblock is that the rubble that is in the line is quite thick and there is a lot of it. ”
“It is not the way you would unblock if it was paper in the line. There is building rabble in the line therefore it is taking a long time. I must just apologise to the parents, the learners and the teachers that it has taken as long as it has to unblock this,” Khuzwayo adds.
It remains unclear when the school will re-open. Attempts to get a comment from the provincial Department of Education were unsuccessful.