“The department has procured mobile classrooms, not as a permanent replacement of any classroom in the province, but as a short-term measure to address and alleviate pressures in our schools,” said spokesman Paena Galane. “These mobile classrooms are not the property of any school, but belong to the department.”
A portion of the school was torched on February 2, following violence in Malamulele in January and February by residents demanding their own municipality. The Municipal Demarcation Board announced in January that Malamulele did not qualify for its own municipality.
Protests also erupted in the area before the May general elections, Residents claim the Thulamela municipality has been channelling services to Tshivenda-speaking areas, rather than their own, which is dominated by Xitsonga speakers.
Galane said that when the department received a completion certificate for any permanent structure from the implementing agent, mobile classrooms were brought back to the department for use by other schools in need. “In this case, the company that the department procured the mobile classes from will help the department in dismantling, providing maintenance, and transporting the mobile classrooms to a new site in need.”
The fact that the Malamulele High School demanded new, air-conditioned mobile classrooms shocked the department, as the department was, from April, working on the relocation of the school to a new site. Galane said the school needed to respect other schools in the province and taxpayers.
The department’s 2014/15 budget also did not allow for the procurement of further mobile classrooms.