About 15 Phillipi High school pupils had on Wednesday appeared in Athlone Magistrate’s Court on charges relating to public violence and were released on a warning.
This follows after the high school pupils had started a strike demanding a new school that was promised to them in 2015.
It is said that the pupils started by blocking traffic on New Eisleben Road with rocks and debris before marching to the Metro South education district office. Police had tried several attempts to stop the march but the high school pupils proceeded and crowded the department’s entrance, preventing vehicles from entering.
A grade 12 learner, Avela Siphukuza, 19, said that the students had done nothing wrong and had organised a non-violent march to voice out their grievances to the school together with the department of education.
“We asked the security to allow other students who were inside school premises to come and join the march. Instead, the head of the security invited criminals and some of her friends from the School Governing Board (SGB) to come and beat us up with sjamboks and hockey sticks.”
He added that their rights as learners had been taken for granted since they had been using mobile classes which are in no good condition to be used as learning classes.
“The department of education has promised to build us a new school since March 6, 2015, and now it’s been two years and the situation is still the same.”
The pupils further said that they were tired of empty promises from the department and demanded an update on the issue of the new school.
Meanwhile, the department of education has not denied any of its promises relating the issue of building a new school.
The department’s spokesperson, Millicent Merton has agreed to the fact that the students have been using mobile classes since 2007 and also admitted that the new school was promised in 2015.
She said that the department of Public Works was still trying to find a suitable piece of land to use for the new building and that the structure was still in design phase.
“The learners were informed in 2015 that the department has the budget for the new school, but the process is long,” she said.
“You know land is one of the issues that we face, you wouldn’t just snap your fingers and tomorrow find the land.”
Merton added that the department of public works has found the land and the construction was underway.
“The new school construction will embark on the 2017/2018 financial year. The department scheduled a meeting with the SGB which had been disturbed by this strike,” she said.